Journal Article

Aspirations to life

Liesbet Nys

in Journal of the History of Collections

Volume 20, issue 1, pages 113-126
Published in print May 2008 | ISSN: 0954-6650
Published online January 2008 | e-ISSN: 1477-8564 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhm034
Aspirations to life

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In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the volume of criticism of public museums in Belgium increased. As a result of their uninspiring design, museums were repeatedly described as graveyards that held little attraction for the public. According to reformers, new forms of presentation, with the objects arranged in context, would transform museums into living institutions, with much more appeal. In this article, the debate concerning the novel arrangements proposed for Belgian museums is examined, using five case-studies relating to various types of collection. This discourse, which is strikingly uniform in its treatment of the different kinds of museums, reveals not only the changing expectations of public museums around the turn of the century but also the resistance evoked by attempts to reform the museum system in Belgium.

Journal Article.  9369 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; History of Art ; Social and Cultural History

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