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Museums and the British imperial experience

Recent cultural studies have demonstrated the weakness of some of the fashionable theoretical positions adopted by scholars of imperialism in recent times. This book explores the diverse roles played by museums and their curators in moulding and representing the British imperial experience. The British Empire yielded much material for British museums, particularly in terms of ethnographic collections. The collection of essays demonstrates how individuals, their curatorial practices, and intellectual and political agendas influenced the development of a variety of museums across the globe. It suggests that Thomas Baines was deeply engaged with the public presentation, display and interpretation of material culture, and the dissemination of knowledge and information about the places he travelled. He introduced many people to the world beyond Norfolk. A discussion of visitor engagement with non-European material cultures in the provincial museum critiques the assumption of the pervasive nature of curatorial control of audience reception follows. The early 1900s, the New Zealand displays at world's fairs presented a vision of Maoriland, which often had direct Maori input. From its inception, the National Museum of Victoria performed the dual roles of research and public education. The book also discusses the collections at Australian War Memorial, Zanzibar Museum, and Sierra Leone's National Museum. The amateur enthusiasms and colonial museum policy in British West Africa are also highlighted. Finally, the book follows the journey of a single object, Tipu's Tiger, from India back to London.

Claire Wintle

inconsistencies and failures in authority of such ‘disciplinary regimes’. 4 Others have highlighted the need to credit a broader variety of human agents in the study of meaning-making in museums. 5 This chapter will contribute to this scholarship and emphasise the extent to which discrepancies between intended meaning and popular understanding of museum displays occurred. I will use a discussion of visitor engagement with non-European material cultures in the provincial museum to critique the assumption of the pervasive nature of

in Curating empire
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European displays of natural history and anatomy and nineteenth-century literature
Laurence Talairach-Vielmas

nature of Frankenstein’s reaction to the ‘curiosities’ he sees – both in terms of distance and in the emotional reaction generated in him by a series of associations. For Samuel Alberti, the development of literary genres or modes was closely related to the evolution of collections of natural history and anatomy. As he argues, The roots of Gothic literature were in the fascination with an imagined and terrible past, and visitorsengagement (with fossils in particular) may reflect this

in Interventions
Empire Day and the 1924 Wembley Exhibition
Brad Beaven

crowd into the Amusement Park and give the Exhibition itself a wide berth'. To compound the problem, the amusement park did little to educate or elevate visitors' engagement with empire and instead indulged in popular vulgarity. He concluded that 'the Amusement Park ought not to be more than a concomitant. The Exhibition proper should be of genuine interest, and apparently it is not'. 91 There was, then, a

in Visions of empire
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Audiences and objects
Samuel J.M.M. Alberti

/or control them, and how they in turn responded. Four themes have emerged during the course of this exploration that connect them to arguments in the chapters above: a marked shift in approach to visitor engagement; the enduring significance of class; the invisibility of certain categories of actors in the history of museums; and the active nature of museum visiting. From this preliminary exploration of the variety of constituencies and experiences, we can see a pattern not so much of changing reactions to collections, but changing mechanisms for engagement between Museum

in Nature and culture