Museum Storage and Meaning: Tales from the Crypt, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Museum Storage and Meaning

Tales from the Crypt, 1st Edition

Edited by Mirjam Brusius, Kavita Singh


300 pages | 39 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2017-09-07
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Beyond their often beautiful exhibition halls, many museums contain vast, hidden spaces in which objects may be stored, conserved, or processed. Museums can also include unseen archives, study rooms, and libraries which are inaccessible to the public. This collection of essays focuses on this domain, an area that has hitherto received little attention. Divided into four sections, the book critically examines the physical space of museum storage areas, the fluctuating historical fortunes of exhibits, the growing phenomenon of publicly visible storage, and the politics of objects deemed worthy of collection but unsuitable for display. In doing so, it explores issues including the relationship between storage and canonization, the politics of collecting, the use of museum storage as a form of censorship, the architectural character of storage space, and the economic and epistemic value of museum objects. Essay contributions come from a broad combination of museum directors, curators, archaeologists, historians, and other academics.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction Mirjam Brusius, Kavita Singh

Part I: Visible and Visitable Storage

2. Performances of Museum Storage James Delbourgo

3. Visible storage, visible labour? Nicky Reeves

4. Serendipity, Transparency, and Wonder: The Value of Visitable Storage Sarah Bond

5. Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, in conversation with Mirjam Brusius

6. To Store is to Save: Kenneth C. Murray and the founding of the Nigerian Museum, Lagos Amanda H. Hellman

Part II: Spaces of Storage, Beyond Display

7. “Essential Cure for Dying Museums”: Clarence S. Stein and Study-storage Belinda Nemec

8. ‘Storage’ and ‘Display’: Local Museum Practices in India Upinder Singh

9. Home from Homes: The Movement of Things from Families to Museums Claire Warrior

10. Home Storage: The Reception and Treatment of Domestic Collections of Aeronautica by the Science Museum and the National Air and Space Museum Caitlin Doherty

11. Preserving Preservation. Maintaining Meaning in Museum Storage Wendy M. K. Shaw

Part III: In and Out of View: Changing Fortunes of Objects

12. Hidden Histories: Museum Taxidermy Rediscovered John Sanders

13. The Animals went in Two by Two: Shifts in the Classification and Display of Taxidermy in the Seen and Unseen Spaces of Public Museums Ebony Andrews

14. Storage and Sharing: A Suggestion for the Future of Collections of forgeries' Michael Conforti

15. Upstairs, Downstairs. The National Gallery's dual collections Susanna Avery Quash and Alan Crookham

16. The double life of ‘Oriental’ textiles at the Byzantine & Christian Museum, Athens: interpreting storage and displayability of Ottoman silks in 20th century Greece Nikolaos Vryzidis and Elena Papastavrou

Part IV: Politics of Awkwardness, Anxiety and Taboo

17. Lying in wait: inertia and latency in the collection Alice Stevenson

18. Clothing, Care and Compromise: A Case Study of the Storage of the Hodson Shop Collection, 1983-2015 Jenny Gilbert-Evans

19. Loose Bodies: Reserve Collections, Curatorial Reservations, and the Ancient Egyptian Dead Christina Riggs

20. The Secret Art of the Bambui Royal Treasury, Western Grassfield, Cameroon Mathias Alubafi Fubah

21. Remnants of past lives – storing archaeological stuff Morag M. Kersel

About the Editors

Mirjam Brusius is a research fellow at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, University of Oxford, UK

Kavita Singh is a Professor in the School of Arts and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

About the Series

Routledge Research in Museum Studies

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Museum Studies
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Library & Information Science / General