Claire Wintle
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Visiting the empire at the provincial museum, 1900–50
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This chapter contributes to Foucauldian scholarship and emphasises the extent to which discrepancies between intended meaning and popular understanding of museum displays occurred. It discusses visitor engagement with non-European material cultures in the provincial museum to critique the assumption of the pervasive nature of curatorial control of audience reception. Away from the museum, however, there was plenty of additional opportunity to engage with the peoples of the British Empire and their material cultures. The chapter explores how museum publics form individual responses to cultural heritage, sometimes rejecting official interpretation and drawing upon wider cultural references and experiences. It introduces the intentions that Brighton Museum's staff had when constructing their particular displays of non-European material culture. It draws heavily upon public opinion submitted to and reported upon in the Brighton Herald and Hove Chronicle.

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Curating empire

Museums and the British imperial experience


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