1st Edition

Museum Exhibitions and Suspense The Use of Screenwriting Techniques in Curatorial Practice

By Ariane Karbe Copyright 2023
    190 Pages 38 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Museum Exhibitions and Suspense takes insights from screenwriting to revolutionise our understanding of exhibition curating.

    Despite all genuine efforts to reach broader audiences, museums persistently fear riskingtheir credibility by becoming ‘too popular’. Thus, the enormous potential to learn from other storytelling forms more experienced in the field of entertainment remains essentially unexploited. Museum Exhibitions and Suspense unlocks this creative potential. A comparative in-depth analysis of three classical Hollywood films and three cultural historical exhibitions demonstrates how dramatic suspense techniques can be applied to exhibitions. These techniques must be adapted to the typical epic character of the exhibition medium. By differentiating between mild and wild suspense the book provides a new understanding of the nature of suspense itself.

    Museum Exhibitions and Suspense addresses academics and students in the fields of museum studies, gallery studies and heritage studies interested in how exhibitions function and in how to achieve dramaturgical effects like suspense. It also appeals to scholars and students within film studies who want to gain a deeper understanding of suspense. It provides an important resource for curators and other museum practitioners and scriptwriters who intend to create stories with a wide audience appeal.

    Introduction; Chapter 1. Suspense: Stories and audiences; Chapter 2. Narrative suspense: Structure and relevance; Chapter 3. Dramatic suspense: Hypotheses and emotions; Chapter 4. Suspense techniques; Chapter 5. Film analyses; Chapter 6. Exhibition analyses; Chapter 7. A thought experiment; Chapter 8. Suspense Revisited: Mild and wild; Conclusion; Outlook: Curators as storytellers


    Ariane Karbe is an independent curator and museum consultant with over 20 years of experience in developing exhibitions. She holds a PhD in museum studies from University of Leicester and trained as a scriptwriter at the Filmschool Hamburg Berlin. Her passion is to use storytelling to make museums more inclusive places.