Governing Modes of Permanent Exhibitions in Fostering Museum-Visitor Interaction

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  • Title: Governing Modes of Permanent Exhibitions in Fostering Museum-Visitor Interaction: Creating a New Permanent Exhibition at the University of Tartu Natural History Museum
  • Author(s): Reet Mägi, Krista Lepik
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Inclusive Museum
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum
  • Keywords: Governmentality, Natural History Museums, Permanent Exhibitions, Museum-Visitor Interaction
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 1835-2014 (Print)
  • ISSN: 1835-2022 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v12i04/1-11
  • Citation: Mägi, Reet, and Krista Lepik. 2019. "Governing Modes of Permanent Exhibitions in Fostering Museum-Visitor Interaction: Creating a New Permanent Exhibition at the University of Tartu Natural History Museum." The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum 12 (4): 1-11. doi:10.18848/1835-2014/CGP/v12i04/1-11.
  • Extent: 11 pages

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to contribute to defining the roles of permanent exhibitions in natural history museums that aim to facilitate museum-visitor interaction. By considering the Foucauldian theory of power and approaching museums as heterotopias and governing institutions, we focus on how the curators of the new permanent exhibition at the University of Tartu Natural History Museum envisaged the exhibition fostering museum-visitor interaction. Based on a qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews with exhibition curators, this article scrutinizes the process of creating a permanent exhibition in terms of the potential representations and interpretations of the exhibition. The results indicate various governing modes of the exhibition applied by means of Foucauldian pastoral care. The governing modes were manifested in three ways: educating, considering the interests and needs of various target groups among the visitors, and enabling several stakeholder groups to direct or contribute in the development process of the permanent exhibition. In addition to mapping the vital points of discussion during the creation of a permanent exhibition, this article also contributes to the theoretical research related to Foucault-inspired theories of governmentality and heterotopias in the context of museums.