Beyond the Rational Museum

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  • Title: Beyond the Rational Museum: Toward a Discourse of Inclusion
  • Author(s): Janice Baker
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Inclusive Museum
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum
  • Keywords: Affect, Museum Discourse, Deleuze
  • Volume: 1
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2008
  • ISSN: 1835-2014 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1835-2022 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Baker, Janice. 2008. "Beyond the Rational Museum: Toward a Discourse of Inclusion." The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum 1 (2): 23-30. doi:10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v01i02/44461.
  • Extent: 8 pages


Museum discourse is not inclusive in that it neglects or negates the affective potential of museums. Affect is precognitive sensation, it is unexpected, and leaves a more lasting impression than re-cognition. The museum’s role in the shaping of histories, and its origins in class and gender exploitation are important areas of discourse, however, the focus on these issues also limits discourse. Ideologically driven critique seems unable to explain the experiential affect of exhibits of art and material culture. Arguably, an alternative museum with a contradictory set of meanings has always existed alongside the rational museum of critical discourse. Some critics do acknowledge that their disciplines seem unable to grapple with this ‘alternative museum’, however, there is not a critical vocabulary of affect with which to give it appropriate expression. Gilles Deleuze’s philosophical ideas give relevance to affect, and are useful in shaping or ‘shocking’ a way toward a more inclusive critical discourse, which might lead toward more inclusive museum practices.