Biodiversity on Display: Museological and Scientific Practices in Natural History Museums Exhibitions

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Abstract Summary
Exhibitions are social constructions in which information and archives are selected by professionally diverse teams, whose work may be influenced by institutional and financial contingencies. In natural history museums, expography has drastically changed during the last two centuries. Scientific and museological practices are fundamental factors influencing these changes. The increasing circulation of objects, bibliographies and professionals among European and American museums may also have influenced exhibitions design. Inasmuch as the history of museography in relation to its own circulation in natural history museums is still incipient, this thesis proposes to identify ways of display that represent museological and scientific practices in Brazilian and Portuguese natural history museums, by analyzing five contemporaneous exhibitions in which "biodiversity" is a central concept. After reviewing the literature on history of science and museology, we constructed a matrix with indicators which allowed us to recognize different expographic patterns, from the nineteenth century until nowadays. We identified overlapping of ways of display, once in the same exhibition there were different types of representations of scientific practices and concepts. Our preliminary results show that even exhibitions designed after 2010 still have specimens displayed according to design patterns typical of the previous centuries. Although we noticed the importance of researchers and their practices in the conception of exhibitions, different patterns in the same space and narrative indicated the existence of other factors affecting the ways of display. Identifying the origin of these factors will allow us to establish a panorama of influences on science representation in museological institutions.
Abstract ID :
HSS965
Submission Type
Abstract Topic
Chronological Classification :
21st century
Self-Designated Keywords :
exhibitions; circulation; natural history museums; expography

Associated Sessions

IHC - CEHFCi - University of Évora

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