Museum Place in Society

August 24, 2011

‘The Birth of the Museum’ by Tony Bennett studies into the multi-tiered role of exhibitionary movement and carcerational movement which in human history evolves into civic architectural spaces. It is implied in the very early in the reader the evolution of the two roles are utilised in the play of power relation throughout the shifting social structure of civilization of different times (Bennet, 1995: p. 60). Capable of creating strong affect through physical and boundary defined control, the carceration complex such as a prison retrains an individual back into a ‘human’, a ‘citizen’ (Bennet, 1995: p. 62-63). The specific use of terms, ‘human’ and ‘citizen’, indicates and implies occupants are the misfits of social norms and these facilities forces and mould them to conform to a set of acceptable social behaviours. The carceration nature is a loop of interaction within the tangible world with influences external to the body.

Whereas the nature of exhibitionary complexes such as Museum involves the looping effect of affect between subjects and objects. It possesses no physical control but the rehabilitation occurs within the affect and mental state of the subject. Similar to the concept of the 2010 Hollywood move, ‘Inception’, the exhibitionary complexes attempt to plant a thought, a consequence and allow an individual to manifest. The enforcement of power relation affecting social control varies distinctively but seeks the ultimate same social control on a political purpose.

It is interesting in how Bennett noted the grand shift of anthropological segregation, from diverse culture, races and languages, the exhibitionary qualities played the role of uniting differences through the play of Affect, sharing similarities more than differences. In more recent times, the international exhibition (Bennet, 1995: p. 66) now possesses the quality of allowing people to view mankind as a single body on Earth. There is a relationship between the scale of comparison as an individual, a race, a country, and on a planetary scale, a single species.

The role of museum and its typology does not hold a single form, playing the vital role in civilization; the museum constantly changes and evolves to cater to its social requirements to continue its duties.

– Barry Lim

-Tony Bennett,‘The Exhibitionary Complex’, The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics, London: Routledge, 1995, excerpt, pp. 59-79.


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