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Title: 'Nature' and 'culture' in Greek contemporary museum practice : a study of the Goulandris Museum (of Natural History)
Author: Kioussis, Sokratis I.
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2011
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In its various manifestations, 'art' could be described as a product of 'nature', on which it often reflects, alongside being a product of 'culture'. In recent and past scholarship 'nature' and 'culture' are often treated as opposed categories. Museums in particular have a role in the creation and maintenance ' of a nature/culture configuration. Representing the world in different ways, they have established boundaries between them in the very act of focusing attention on each and increasing understanding in both domains. Drawing on different museological traditions and responding to contemporary issues, the project of creating The Goulandris Museum has brought 'nature' and 'culture' together in its program, exploiting antiquities and other evocations of the ancient world to explain the natural world, especially in its latest schemes. This thesis· examines !he background to such practices, the ideas it embodies and the challenges it sets itself. However, it is more than a study of the history of one particular museum created in the second half of the twentieth century; this thesis also considers the history of other European museums, whose practices and development over time have contributed to the distinctive schema realised in Athens in recent decades. Chapter I introduces the Goulandris Museum and discusses the different ways in which museums have chosen to represent nature. Touching on the means by which they generate knowledge and awareness of the natural world, it discusses how the representation of nature in itself also reflects mankind's plasmatic relationship with the natural world. Chapter II looks back to 'cabinets of curiosity' and the founding and development of three influential institutions to reflect on the tradition of natural history museums in Europe. Chapter III continues with a conceptual and historical reading of London's Natural History Museum, an institution that greatly contributed to the rationale and public presentation of the Goulandris Museum, setting up its first displays. The detail of this particular institutional relationship is examined in Chapter IV, an analysis based on original archival research conducted at the Natural History Museum. . Chapter V examines the displays and practices of the Goulandris Museum prior to the emergence of its research and education centre ('Gaia Centre'), which we explore separately in Chapter VI in conjunction with the New Acropolis Museum, an institution that was designed by the same.architect, Michalis Photiadis. Interviews conducted with him and with the Director and several staff of the Goulandris Museum inform our analysis. That with Mrs. Goulandris is referenced throughout the thesis. The literature review is also · distributed through the thesis at the points where it is relevant and especially in Chapter V which discusses the literature on the history and conception of natural history museums as points of access to the 'real' world of nature. . This thesis is set in a conceptual but also in a historical conte:r:t, as indeed were the ambitions of the founders of the Goulandris Museum. It was the first natural history museum in Greece, and the Qoulandrises sought to situate their new project within both European traditions of natural history museums ' and the traditions of archaeological and classical collections, which had until then dominated the Greek understanding of the purposes of museums. Drawing on these sources, the Goulandris Museum has arrived at its latest scheme which deploys ideas of nature and of culture to shape a very particular identity within Greece ' and to engage and infOlID its visitors.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available