Chapter

Place and Museum Space: The Smithsonian Institution, National Identity, and the American West, 1846–1896

Edited by Sally Gregory Kohlstedt

in Geographies of Nineteenth-Century Science

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780226487267
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226487298 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226487298.003.0016
Place and Museum Space: The Smithsonian Institution, National Identity, and the American West, 1846–1896

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This chapter examines the connection between the museum space of the Smithsonian Institution and the expansive space of the American West. It explains that the symbolic role of the West in the American psyche emerged in significant part from its staging within the confines of the Smithsonian Institution and that the museum contributed to public instantiation of the idea of the American West not as a fixed place, but as a reflection of the nation itself. This chapter suggests that the museum provided its visitors an experience of the West with its collection of products of expeditions, managed observations and accumulated textual guides.

Keywords: American West; Smithsonian Institution; American psyche; museum space; nation; symbolic role; museum; expeditions; observations; textual guides

Chapter.  16190 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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