University of Leicester
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Metaphors and ways of seeing: A study of the permanent exhibition.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 09:09 authored by Carol E. Mayer
Traditions associated with conservatism, scholarly content, and durability inform the ideology of the permanent exhibition. Its close association with the hegemony of museum architecture has ensured its affiliation with the appropriate and enduring image of the temple rather than the democratic and fluid image of the forum. Current museum-related discourse is discarding this metaphorical referent and is in the process of investigating and questioning the ideological underpinnings of the permanent exhibition. The intent of this thesis is to utilise a new permanent exhibition as a vehicle to question to what degree its final form is determined by the complexity of the inter-relationship between the collection, collector's rationale, object-related research, discipline-related theory, socio-political organisation of the museum, and philosophical, physical and financial constraints. In the tradition of anthropology this thesis explores and questions these inter-relationships through the idioscyncrasies of a single case study - the installation of one individual's collection of ceramics into a new permanent gallery at the University of British Columbia, Museum of Anthropology. It is concluded that the conceptual framework constructed to accommodate an organising principle of the exhibition is the product of a series of complex negotiations stemming from the inter-relationship of people, power and structure. It is further concluded that by incorporating these negotiations as a recognised element in the exhibition process, alongside the acceptance of the essentially fragmentary nature of exhibitions, the permanent exhibition can respond to public critiques and changes in the world scene thus ensuring a flexibility that can keep it relevant to museum-related discourse and move it closer to the image of the forum.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Museum Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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