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Key Concepts

of Museology
Key Concepts
of Museology
Edited by Andr Desvalles
and Franois Mairesse
With the assistance of the Muse Royal de Mariemont
www.musee-mariemont.be

And the assistance of the ICOM International Committee for Museology

Cover photos:

2009 Muse du Louvre / Angle Dequier


National Heritage Board, Singapore
Auckland Museum
Ningbo Museum

Armand Colin, 2010


ISBN: 978-2-200-25398-1
EDITORIAL COMMITTEE
Franois Mairesse, Andr Desvalles, Bernard Deloche, Serge
Chaumier, Martin Schrer, Raymond Montpetit, Yves Bergeron,
Nomie Drouguet, Jean Davallon

With the participation of:

Philippe Dub, Nicole Gesch-Koning, Andr Gob, Bruno Brulon


Soares, Wan Chen Chang, Marilia Xavier Cury, Blondine Desbiolles,
Jan Dolak, Jennifer Harris, Francisca Hernandez Hernandez, Diana
Lima, Pedro Mendes, Lynn Maranda, Monica Risnicoff de Gorgas,
Anita Shah, Graciela Weisinger, Anna Leshchenko, all of whom have
contributed to the ICOFOM Symposium in 2009 on this subject or
have read through this document.

Translated from the French version by Suzanne Nash

5
FOREWORD

The development of professional standards is one of the core


objectives of ICOM, particularly in the area of advancement, sharing,
and communication of knowledge to the broad-ranging global museum
community, but also to those who develop policies in relation to its
work, to those responsible for managing the legal and social aspects
of its profession, and not least to those to whom it is directed and who
are expected to participate in and benet from it. Launched in 1993,
under the supervision of Andr Desvalles, and with the collaboration
of Franois Mairesse from 2005 onwards, the Dictionary of Museology
is a monumental work resulting from many years of research,
interrogation, analysis, revision and debate by ICOMs International
Committee for Museology (ICOFOM), which is particularly devoted
to the process of developing our comprehension of the practice and
theory of museums and the work that is undertaken within these
institutions daily.
The role, development and management of museums has changed
greatly in the last couple of decades. Museum institutions have become
steadily more visitor-focused and some of the larger museums are
veering more towards a corporate management model in their daily
operations. The museum profession and environment have therefore
inevitably evolved. Countries such as China have seen an unprecedented
increase in their museum presence, but there are equally important
museum developments occurring at the micro level, for example
in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). These exciting changes
7
FOREWORD

lead to increasing discrepancies in museum job specications and


training courses across different cultures. In this context, a reference
tool for museum professionals and students of museology is all-
the-more essential. Where the ICOM/UNESCO publication Running
a Museum: A Practical Handbook provided museum practitioners with
a basic handbook on current museum practice, the Encyclopaedia
Dictionarium should be regarded as a companion piece, providing a
complementary perspective on the theory of museums.
While the challenges of day-to-day work often overwhelm the
ability of the museum eld to stop and think about its fundamental
philosophical bases, there is a growing need for functionaries at all
levels to rise to the challenge of bringing clarity and comprehension
to those who question the relevance of the museum to society and
its citizens. ICOFOMs crucial work as encapsulated in the Encyclo-
paedic Dictionary provides for a cogent, structured deconstruction
and distillation of the core precepts underpinning our work today.
Although the Dictionary presents a predominantly Francophone vision
of museology for reasons of linguistic coherence, the terminologies
synthesised herein are comprehended and/or utilised by museologists
in several different cultures. The publication, while not exhaustive,
synthesises decades of knowledge development in a systematic investi-
gation of both the epistemology and etymology of the museum and
offers an in-depth presentation of the primary concepts in Museology
today, with an elegantly pragmatic view of both the historical
redundancies and current contentions, which invest in the growth and
expansion of the profession. ICOFOM, the Dictionarys editors and its
authors have consistently brought sensibility, perception, rigour and
balance to this task of dening and explaining the institution and
the practice.
As an avant premire of the complete Encyclopaedic Dictionary,
this brochure has been designed to give access to the widest public
possible, in the context both historical and current, for the derivation
and evolution of the various terms that litter the language today. In
the spirit of ICOMs policy of embracing diversity and promoting
greater inclusion, ICOM anticipates that like the ICOM Code of Ethics
8
FOREWORD

for Museums, its publication will stimulate broad-based debate and


collaboration in its continued updating and revision, rather than being
left on the high shelf. ICOMs 22nd triennial General Conference,
in Shanghai, China is therefore a tting dbut for this invaluable
reference tool in museology. Bringing together museum professionals
of all nationalities is precisely the type of platform that gives birth
to standards and reference tools such as these for current and future
generations.

Alissandra Cummins
President
International Council of Museums (ICOM)

9
PREFACE

In accordance with the underlying principles of ICOM, the aim


of the International Committee for Museology (ICOFOM) since its
beginnings in 1977 has been to develop museology as a scientic and
academic discipline which will foster the development of museums
and the museum profession through research, study, and dissemi-
nation of the main currents of museological thinking.
To this end a multidisciplinary working group was created to
make a critical analysis of museological terminology, focusing its
thinking on the fundamental concepts of museology. For nearly
twenty years the Thesaurus Working Group compiled remarkable
essays and summaries from its scientic research. Convinced of the
importance of providing the public with a catalogue of terms consti-
tuting fundamental reference material, ICOFOM decided with the
support of the International Council of Museums to introduce this
publication at the ICOM General Conference to be held in Shanghai
in November 2010. The introductory brochure, a summary of each of
the twenty-one essays on a fundamental museological term, will be
presented as a preview of the forthcoming Dictionary of Museology in
which these essays will be published in full, accompanied by a selective
dictionary describing close to 500 words mentioned in them.
I would like to emphasise that this brochure, an introduction to the
far more extensive work, does not pretend to be exhaustive but aims
to permit the reader to differentiate between the concepts that are
11
P R E FA C E
covered by each term, to discover new connotations and their links to
the entire museological eld.
Dr. Vinos Sofka did not work in vain when, in the rst years of
ICOFOM, he strove to turn this international committee into a forum
for reection and debate on museological theory, able to reect on
its own foundations. Thus the committees ongoing intellectual
production, which continues today, has been preserved through
the annual publication of the ICOFOM Study Series (ISS) which has
enriched the body of museological theory for over thirty years. The
international bibliography of all ICOFOM publications is unique and
represents a faithful picture of the evolution of museological thinking
throughout the world.
From reading the articles in this brochure we can understand the
need to reconsider the theoretical fundamentals of museology from
an integrating and pluralistic approach, founded in the conceptual
wealth of each word. The terms presented in this brochure are a
clear example of the work of a group of specialists who have been
able to understand and enhance the fundamental structure of the
language, our intangible heritage par excellence. The conceptual
reach of museological terminology allows us to appreciate the extent
to which theory and practice are inseparably linked. Wishing to go
beyond beaten paths, the authors introduced their own observations
wherever they needed to draw attention to a specic characteristic of
a term. They were not trying to build or rebuild bridges, but rather to
start from an examination of other more precise concepts and search
for new cultural meanings which enrich the theoretical foundations
of a discipline as vast as museology, destined to strengthen the role of
museums and their professionals worldwide.
In my position as Chair of ICOFOM it is a great honour and
pleasure to be present at the launch, through this brochure, of a work
that will soon be a landmark in the vast museological bibliography
produced by the members of ICOFOM from different countries and
disciplines, all united around one common ideal.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all who have
generously contributed their time and talents to bringing these
12
P R E FA C E

fundamental works to life: our friends and colleagues of whom we are


extremely proud:

to ICOM, our guiding organisation, for having understood, thanks


to the responsiveness of its Director General, Mr. Julien Anfruns,
the importance of a project begun long ago and which can now be
completed thanks to his commitment,
to Andr Desvalles, author of and driving force behind a project
which has gained unexpected and well-deserved importance,
to Franois Mairesse, who began his trajectory within ICOFOM
in his youth, bringing his gifts as a productive writer and resear-
cher, and who, with Andr Desvalles, successfully coordinated the
actions of the Thesaurus Working Group and completed the editing
of this brochure and the Dictionary of Museology.
to all the internationally renowned authors of the different articles,
museological experts in their respective disciplines,
and nally to our three translators, whose work has also been scien-
tic in the translation of specialised terms from French when their
equivalent is not always obvious, either in English or in Spanish
or in Chinese.

To all those who have contributed, each in their own way, to


fullling a dream that has become a reality, I would like to express my
most sincere gratitude.

Nelly Decarolis
Chair
ICOFOM

13
INTRODUCTION

What is a museum? How do we dene a collection? What is an


institution? What does the term heritage encompass? Museum
professionals have inevitably developed answers to questions such as
these, which are fundamental to their work, compiled according to
their knowledge and experience. Do we need to reconsider these? We
believe so. Museum work shifts back and forth between practice and
theory, with theory regularly being sacriced to the thousand and one
daily tasks. The fact remains, however, that thought is a stimulating
exercise which is also fundamental for personal development and for
the development of the museum world.
The purpose of ICOM, on an international level, and of national
and regional museum associations more locally, is to develop standards
and improve the quality of the thinking that guides the museum world
and the services that it provides to society, through meetings between
professionals. More than thirty international committees work on this
collective think tank, each in its specic sector, producing remarkable
publications. But how can this wealth of thought on conservation, new
technologies, education, historical houses, management, professions,
and more, all t together? More generally, how is what one might call
the museum eld organised? These are the questions addressed by the
ICOM International Committee for Museology (ICOFOM) since its
foundation in 1977, in particular through its publications (ICOFOM
Study Series) which set out to inventory and synthesise the diversity of
opinions in museology. This is the context in which the plan to make
15
INTRODUCTION

a compendium of basic concepts in museology, coordinated by Andr


Desvalles, was launched in 1992 by Martin R. Schrer, Chairman of
ICOFOM. He was joined eight years later by Norma Rusconi (who
sadly passed away in 2007), and by Franois Mairesse. Over the years
a consensus emerged that we should try to present, in some twenty
terms, a panorama of the varied landscape that the museum eld
has to offer. This work has gathered momentum over the past few
years. Several preliminary versions of the articles were published (in
ICOFOM Study Series and in the review Publics & muses, which later
became Culture & muses). We propose here a summary of each of
these terms, presenting different aspects of each concept in condensed
form. These are addressed and further developed in the articles
of about ten to thirty pages each, along with a dictionary of about
400 terms, which will appear in the Dictionary of Museology now being
prepared for publication.
The project to compile the Dictionary is based on an international
vision of the museum, fuelled by many exchanges within ICOFOM.
The authors come from French-speaking countries, for reasons of
linguistic coherence: Belgium, Canada, France, Switzerland. They
are Yves Bergeron, Serge Chaumier, Jean Davallon, Bernard Deloche,
Andr Desvalles, Nomie Drouguet, Franois Mairesse, Raymond
Montpetit and Martin R. Schrer. A rst version of this work was
presented and discussed at length at the 32nd symposium of ICOFOM
in Lige and Mariemont (Belgium) in 2009.
Two points are worthy of brief discussion at this point: the
composition of the editorial committee and the choice of the twenty-
one terms.

The French -speaking museal world


in the ICOM dialogue
Why did we choose a committee with almost exclusively French
speakers? Many reasons explain this choice, most but not all of
them practical ones. We know that the idea of an international and
perfectly harmonious collective work is a utopian vision, when not
16
INTRODUCTION

everyone shares a common language (scientic or not). The interna-


tional committees of ICOM are well aware of this situation, which, to
avoid the risk of a Babel, leads them to favour one language English
todays lingua franca. Naturally, the choice of the smallest common
denominator works to the benet of those who master the language,
often to the detriment of many others less familiar with the tongue
of Shakespeare, who are forced to present their thoughts only in a
caricatured version. Using one of the three ICOM languages (English,
French and Spanish) was unavoidable, but which one? The nationality
of the rst contributors, under the direction of Andr Desvalles
(who had worked for many years with Georges Henri Rivire, the rst
Director of ICOM and the founder of French museology) quickly led
to the selection of French, but there were other arguments in its favour.
Most of the contributors can read if not all three, then at least two of
the ICOM languages, even though their command may be far from
perfect. We are familiar with the wealth of Anglo-American contri-
butions in the museum eld, but we must point out that most of these
authors with some notable exceptions, such as the emblematic gures
of Patrick Boylan and Peter Davis, read neither French nor Spanish. The
choice of French in connection, we hope, with a fairly good knowledge
of foreign literature, allowed us to embrace, if not all contributions
in the museum eld then at least some of its aspects, which are not
generally explored but which are very important for ICOM. We are,
however, aware of the limits of our research and hope that this work
will inspire other teams to present, in their own language (German or
Italian, for example), a different approach to the museum eld.
On the other hand, the choice of a language has consequences
for the structuring of thought as illustrated by a comparison of the
denition of the museum by ICOM in 1974 and in 2007, the rst being
originally drafted in French, the second in English. We are aware
that this volume would not have been the same in Spanish, English or
German, both on the level of its structure and in its choice of terms,
but there would also have been a certain theoretical bias! It is not
surprising that most practical guides about museums are written
in English (such as the excellent manual edited by Patrick Boylan
17
INTRODUCTION

Running a Museum: A Practical Handbook1), while they are much rarer


in France or in the old eastern European countries, which favour essay
writing and developing thought and theory.
It would nevertheless be too caricatural to divide museum
literature into a practical component, strictly Anglo-American, and a
theoretical component, closer to the Latin way of thinking: the number
of theoretical essays written by Anglo-Saxon thinkers in museum
literature completely contradicts this picture. The fact remains that
a number of differences exist, and differences are always enriching to
learn and to appreciate. We have tried to take this into consideration.
Finally it is important to pay tribute, through the choice of the
French language, to the fundamental theoretical work continued for
many years by the rst two directors of ICOM, Georges Henri Rivire
and Hugues de Varine, without whom a large part of the museum
work in continental Europe and in the Americas and Africa could not
be understood. A fundamental reection on the museum world cannot
overlook its history, just as it must keep in mind that its origins were
anchored in the Enlightenment and that its transformation (that is its
institutionalisation) occurred at the time of the French Revolution, but
also that the theoretical foundations were laid on the other side of the
Berlin wall during the 1960s when the world was still divided into two
antagonistic blocs. Although the geopolitical order was completely
overturned nearly a quarter of a century ago, it is important that
the museum sector should not forget its own history this would be
absurd for an instrument that passes culture on to the public and to
future generations! However, there is still a risk of a very short memory
which retains from museum history only how to run such institutions
and how to attract visitors

A constantly evolving structure


Right from the start it was not the authors aim to write a denitive
treatise about the museum world, an ideal theoretical system cut off

1. BOYLAN P. (coord.), Running a Museum: A Practical Handbook, Paris, ICOM/Unesco, 2004.


http//:unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001410/141067e.pdf (accessed: June 2010).

18
INTRODUCTION

from reality. The relatively modest formula of a list of twenty-one


terms was chosen to try to mark out a continuum of thought on the
museum eld with only so many waymarks. The reader will not be
surprised to nd here a number of familiar terms in common use,
such as museum, collection, heritage, public, but we hope he will
discover some meanings and aspects of these which are less familiar.
He may be surprised not to nd certain other terms, such as conser-
vation, which is examined under preservation. We have not, however,
taken up all the developments that have been made by the members
of the International Committee for Conservation (ICOM-CC), whose
work extends far beyond our pretensions in this eld. Other more
theoretical terms may seem somewhat exotic to museum practitioners
at rst sight: museal, musealisation, museology, etc. Our aim was to
present the broadest view possible of what can be observed in the
museum world, including some common and some more unusual
practices likely to have a considerable impact on the future of museums
in the long term, for example the concept of virtual museums and
cyber museums.
Let us rst set out the limits of this work: we are proposing a
theoretical and critical reection on museum work in its broad sense,
which goes beyond traditional museums. We can of course begin with
museum and try to dene it. In the ICOM denition of museum, it is an
institution at the service of society and its development. What do these
two fundamental terms mean? But above all and museum denitions
do not immediately answer this question why do museums exist? We
know that the museum world is linked to the concept of heritage, but it
is far larger than this. How can we suggest this wider context? By the
concept of museal (or the museal eld), which is the theoretical eld
dealing with these issues, in the same way that politics are the eld of
political reection, etc. The critical and theoretical examination of the
museal eld is museology, whereas the practical aspect is museography.
For each one of these terms there are often not one but several
denitions which have altered over time. The different interpretations
of each of these terms are examined here.
19
INTRODUCTION

The museum world has evolved a great deal over the years, both
in terms of its functions and through its materiality and the main
elements upon which its work is built. In practical terms, museums
work with objects which form their collections. The human element
is obviously fundamental to understanding the way museums work,
as much for the staff working within the museum the professionals,
and their relation to ethics as for the public for whom the museum
is intended. What are the functions of museums? They carry out
an activity that can be described as a process of musealisation and
visualisation. More generally, we speak of museal functions, which
have been described in different ways over time. We have based our
research on one of the best known models, crafted at the end of the
1980s by the Reinwardt Academie in Amsterdam, which recognises
three functions: preservation (which includes the acquisition, conser-
vation and management of collections), research and communication.
Communication itself includes education and exhibition, undoubtedly
the two most visible functions of museums. In this regard it seemed to
us that the educational function had grown sufciently over the past
few decades for the term mediation to be added to it. One of the major
differences that struck us between earlier museum work and today is
the growth in the importance attached to notions of management, so
we thought that because of its specicities, it should be treated as a
museum function. The same is probably true for museum architecture,
which has also grown in importance to the point where it sometimes
upsets the balance between other museum functions.
How does one dene a museum? By a conceptual approach
(museum, heritage, institution, society, ethics, museal), by theoretical
and practical considerations (museology, museography), by its functions
(object, collection, musealisation), through its players (professionals,
public), or by the activities which ensue from it (preservation, research,
communication, education, exhibition, mediation, management,
architecture)? There are many possible points of view which have to
be compared to better understand the museum phenomenon, which is
rapidly developing, the recent evolutions of which cannot leave anyone
indifferent.
20
INTRODUCTION

In the early 1980s the museum world experienced a wave of


unprecedented changes: having long been considered elitist and
unobtrusive, museums were now, as it were, coming out, aunting a
taste for spectacular architecture, mounting large exhibitions that were
showy and hugely popular and intending to become part of a certain
style of consumerism. The popularity of museums has not failed since,
and they have doubled in number in the space of little more than a
generation, while astonishing new building projects spring up from
Shanghai to Abu Dhabi, at the dawn of the new geopolitical changes
promised in the future. One generation later the museum eld is
still changing. Even if homo touristicus seems to have replaced the
visitor as the main target of museum marketing, we can still wonder
about their prospects and ask: is there still a future for museums as
we know them? Is the civilisation of material goods crystallised by
museums undergoing radical change? We cannot claim to answer
such questions here, but we hope that those who are interested in the
future of museums in general or, more practically, in the future of their
own institution, will nd in these few pages some elements which may
enrich their thoughts.

Franois Mairesse and Andr Desvalles

21
A
ARCHITECTURE models for ne arts museums, and
by extension gave rise to the names
n.Equivalent in French: architecture; Spa-
gallery, galerie, galleria, and Galerie
nish: arquitectura; German: Architektur; Ita-
lian: architettura; Portuguese: arquitectura in France, Italy and Germany and in
(Brazil: arquitetura). Anglo-American countries.
Although the form of museum
(Museum) architecture is dened as
the art of designing and installing buildings was often focused on safe-
or building a space that will be used guarding collections, it evolved as
to house specic museum functions, new functions in museum work were
more particularly the functions of developed. So it was that after see-
exhibition and display, preventive king solutions for better lighting of
and remedial active conservation, the exhibits (Soufot, Brbion, 1778;
study, management, and receiving J.-B. Le Brun, 1787), for distributing
visitors. the collections better throughout the
Since the invention of the modern museum building (Mechel, 1778-
museum, from the end of the 18th cen- 1784), and for structuring the exhi-
tury and the beginning of the 19th, bition space better (Leo von Klenze,
while old heritage buildings were 1816-1830), at the beginning of the
also being reconverted for museum 20th century museum people realised
use, a specic architecture evolved that the permanent exhibitions must
that was linked to the requirements of be reduced. To this end they created
preserving, researching and commu- storage areas, either by sacricing
nicating collections through perma- exhibition rooms or by creating space
nent or temporary exhibitions. This in the basement, or by building new
architecture is evident in the earliest structures. In addition, every effort
museum buildings as much as in the was made to make the setting for
most contemporary ones. The archi- the exhibits as neutral as possible
tectural vocabulary has itself inuen- even if this meant sacricing all or
ced the development of the idea of the part of the existing historical dcor.
museum. Thus the form of the temple The invention of electricity greatly
with a cupola and columned portico facilitated these improvements and
became established along with the allowed the lighting systems to be
gallery, conceived as one of the main completely revised.

23
New functions that emerged in designed and built according to an
the second half of the 20th century architectural programme drawn up
led to major architectural changes: by the scientic and administrative
the increase in the number of tem- heads of the establishment. Howe-
porary exhibitions led to a different ver, the decisions about denition of
distribution of collections between the programme and the limits of the
the permanent exhibition and sto- architects intervention are not always
rage spaces; the development of visi- distributed in this way. Architecture,
tor facilities, educational workshops as art or the method for building and
and rest areas, in particular the crea- installing a museum, can be seen as
tion of large multi-purpose spaces; a complete oeuvre, one that integra-
the development of bookshops, res- tes the entire museum mechanism.
taurants and shops for selling items This approach, sometimes advocated
relating to the exhibitions. But at the by architects, can only be envisaged
same time, the decentralisation by when the architectural programme
regrouping and by subcontracting encompasses all the museographical
some museum operations required issues, which is often far from being
the building or installation of specia- the case.
lised autonomous buildings: rstly, It can happen that the program-
restoration workshops and laborato- mes given to the architects include
ries which could specialise while ser- the interior design, allowing the
ving several museums, then storage latter if no distinction is made
areas located away from the exhibi- between the areas for general use
tion spaces. and those for museographical use
The architect is the person who to give free rein to their creati-
designs and draws the plans for vity, sometimes to the detriment of
the building and who directs its the museum. Some architects have
construction. More broadly spea- specialised in staging exhibitions
king, the person who designs the and have become stage designers or
envelope around the collections, exhibition designers. Those who can
the staff and the public. Seen from call themselves museographers, or
this perspective, architecture affects specialists in museum practice are
all the elements connected with the rare, unless their practices include
space and light within the museum, this specic type of competence.
aspects which might seem to be of The present difculties of museum
secondary importance but which architecture lie in the conict which
prove to be determining factors for logically exists between, on the one
the meaning of the display (arrange- hand, the ambitions of the architect
ment in chronological order, visibility (who will nd himself in the spotli-
from all angles, neutral background, ght due to the international visibility
etc.). Museum buildings are thus of this type of building today), and on
24
the other hand, the people connected (Perret, 1931). A look at present day
with the preservation and displaying architectural creations shows that,
of the collections; nally, the comfort even if most architects take the requi-
of the different visitors must be taken rements of the museum programme
into account. This issue has already into consideration, many continue to
been highlighted by the architect favour the beautiful object over the
Auguste Perret: For a ship to oat, excellent tool.
should it not be designed quite diffe- Z DERIVATIVES: ARCHITECTURAL PROGRAMME.
rently from a locomotive? The speci-
city of the museum building falls to ) CORRELATED: DCOR, EXHIBITION DESIGN,
INTERIOR DESIGNER, LIGHTING, MUSEOGRAPHIC
the architect, who will be inspired by
PROGRAMME, MUSEOGRAPHY.
its function to create the organism.

25
C
COLLECTION rarely any intention to build a cohe-
rent whole.
n. Equivalent in French: collection; Spanish:
coleccin; German: Sammlung, Kollektion; Ita- Whether material or intangi-
lian: collezione, raccolta; Portuguese: coleco ble, a collection is at the heart of
(Brazil: coleo). the museums activities. Museums
have a duty to acquire, preserve
Generally speaking, a collection
and promote their collections as a
may be dened as a set of material
contribution to the safeguarding of
or intangible objects (works, arte-
the natural, cultural and scientic
facts, mentefacts, specimens, archive
documents, testimonies etc.) which heritage (ICOM Code of Ethics,
an individual or an establishment 2006, article 2). Without saying as
has assembled, classied, selected, much explicitly, ICOMs denition
and preserved in a safe setting and of a museum remains essentially tied
usually displays to a smaller or larger to this principle, conrming Louis
audience, according to whether the Raus long-standing opinion: We
collection is public or private. understand that museums are made
To constitute a real collection, for collections and that they must be
these sets of objects must form a built as it were from inside to out-
(relatively) coherent and meaningful side, shaping the container according
whole. It is important to distinguish to the content (Rau, 1908). This
between a collection and a fonds, an concept no longer corresponds to
archival term referring to a collec- some models of museums which do
tion from a single source, which dif- not own collections, or which have
fers from a museum collection by its collections that are not at the heart
organic nature, and indicates archival of their scientic work. The concept
documents of all kinds which have of collection is also one of those most
been automatically gathered, crea- widely used in the museum world,
ted and/or accumulated and used by even if we have favoured the notion
a physical person or a family in its of museum object, as will be seen
activities or its functions. (Bureau below. However, one can enumerate
of Canadian Archivists, 1992). In three possible connotations of this
the case of a fonds, unlike a museum concept, which varies according to
collection, there is no selection and two factors: on the one hand, the

26
institutional nature of the collection, source of a scientic programme,
and on the other hand, the material the purpose of which is acquisition
or intangible nature of the collection and research, beginning with the
media. material and the intangible evidence
1. Frequent attempts have been of man and his environment. This
made to differentiate between a criterion, however, does not diffe-
museum collection and other types of rentiate between the museum and
collection because the term collection the private collection, in so far as
is so commonly used. Generally the latter can be assembled with a
speaking (since this is not the case scientic objective, even though the
for every museum) the museum museum may acquire a private col-
collection or the museum col- lection which has been built with
lections are both the source and very little intention to serve science.
the purpose of the activities of the This is when the institutional nature
museum perceived as an institution. of the museum dominates when
Collections can thus be dened as dening the term. According to Jean
the collected objects of a museum, Davallon, in a museum the objects
acquired and preserved because of are always parts of systems and cate-
their potential value as examples, as gories (Davallon, 1992). Among
reference material, or as objects of the systems relating to a collection,
aesthetic or educational importance besides the written inventory which
(Burcaw, 1997). We can thus refer is a basic requirement of a museum
to the museum phenomenon as the collection, it is just as essential to
institutionalisation of a private col- adopt a classication system which
lection. We must note, however, that describes and can also rapidly nd
if the curator or the museum staff any item among the thousands or
are not collectors, collectors have millions of objects (taxonomy, for
always had close ties with curators. example, is the science of classifying
Museums should have an acquisition living organisms). Modern classi-
policy as emphasised by ICOM, cation systems have been greatly
which also mentions a collection inuenced by information techno-
policy museums select, purchase, logy, but documenting collections
assemble, receive. The French verb remains an activity requiring speci-
collectionner is rarely used because it c and rigorous knowledge, based
is too closely linked to the actions of on building up a thesaurus of terms
the private collector and to its deri- describing the relations between the
vatives (Baudrillard, 1968), that is to different categories of objects.
say collectionism and accumulation, 2. The denition of collection can
known pejoratively as collectionitis. also be viewed from a more general
From this perspective the collection perspective to include private col-
is seen as both the result and the lectors and museums, but taking
27
its assumed materiality as a starting Museum collections have always
point. Since this collection is made appeared relevant provided that they
of material objects as was the case are dened in relation to the accom-
very recently for the ICOM deni- panying documentation, and also
tion of museums the collection is by the work that results from them.
identied by the place where is loca- This evolution has led to a much
ted. Krysztof Pomian denes the wider meaning of the collection as
collection as any group of natural a gathering of objects, each preser-
or articial objects that are held tem- ving its individuality, and assembled
porarily or permanently outside the intentionally according to a specic
circuit of economic activity, subject logic. This latter meaning, the most
to special protection in an enclosed open, includes toothpick collections
place designed for this purpose, and accumulated as well as traditional
displayed on view (Pomian, 1987). museum collections, but also col-
Pomian thus denes the collection lections of oral history, memories or
by its essentially symbolic value, in scientic experiments.
so far as the object has lost its use- Z DERIVATIVES: COLLECT, COLLECTION, COLLECTOR,
fulness or its value as an item for COLLECTION MANAGEMENT.
exchange and has become a carrier
of meaning (semiophore or carrier ) CORRELATED: ACQUISITION, CATALOGUE,
CATALOGUING, CONSERVATION, DEACCESSION,
of signicance). (see Object). DOCUMENTATION, EXHIBIT, EXHIBITION, PRESERVATION,
3. The recent development of RESEARCH, RESTORATION, RETURN, RESTITUTION, STUDY.
museums in particular the reco-
gnition of intangible heritage has
emphasised the more general nature COMMUNIC ATION
of collections while also raising new
challenges. Intangible collections (tra- n. Equivalent in French: communication;
ditional knowledge, rituals and myths Spanish: comunicacin; German: Kommuni-
kation; Italian: communicazione, Portuguese:
in ethnology, ephemeral gestures and communicao.
performances in contemporary art)
have led to the development of new Communication (C) is the action
systems for acquisition. The material of conveying information between
composition of objects alone some- one or several emitters (E) and one
times becomes secondary, and the or several receivers (R) through a
documentation of the collecting pro- channel (the ECR model, Lasswell
cess which has always been impor- 1948). The concept is so general that
tant in archaeology and ethnology it is not limited to human processes
now becomes the most important of bearing information of a semantic
information. This information is not nature, but is also encountered in
only part of research, but also part relation to machines and to animals
of communicating to the public. or social life (Wiener 1949). The

28
term has two usual connotations and exhibits the tangible and intan-
which can be found to different gible heritage of humanity and its
degrees in museums, according to environment for the purposes of edu-
whether the phenomenon is recipro- cation, study and enjoyment. Until
cal (E C R) or not (E C R). the second half of the 20th century
In the rst case the communication the principle function of a museum
is called interactive, while in the was to preserve amassed cultural
second it is unilateral and spread or natural treasures, and possibly
out in time. When communication is to display these, without explicitly
unilateral and operates in time, and expressing any intention to commu-
not just in space, it is called transmis- nicate, that is to convey a message
sion (Debray, 2000). or information to a receiving public.
In the museum context commu- If in the 1990s, people were asking
nication emerges both as the pre- themselves whether the museum
sentation of the results of research was really a medium (Davallon,
undertaken into the collections 1992; Rasse, 1999) this was because
(catalogues, articles, conferences, the museums communication func-
exhibitions) and as the provision of tion did not appear obvious to eve-
information about the objects in the ryone. On the one hand, the idea of a
collections (the permanent exhibi- museum message appeared only rela-
tion and the information connected tively late, with thematic exhibitions
with it). This interpretation sees the that were principally aimed at educa-
exhibition both as an integral part tion; on the other hand, the receiving
of the research process and as an public remained a great unknown
element in a more general commu- for a long time, and it is only quite
nication system including for exam- recently that museum visitor studies
ple, scientic publications. This is and visitor surveys have developed.
the rationale which prevailed in the Seen from the perspective favoured
PRC (PreservationResearchCom- in the ICOM denition of museums,
munication) system proposed by the museum communication would
Reinwardt Academie in Amsterdam, appear to be the sharing, with diffe-
which includes under communi- rent publics, of the objects in the col-
cation the functions of exhibition, lection and the information resulting
publication, and education fullled from research into them.
by the museum. 2. We can dene the specicity
1. Application of the term com- of communication as practised by
munication to museums is not museums in two points: (1) it is most
obvious, in spite of the use made of often unilateral, that is, without the
it by ICOM in its denition of the possibility of reply from the recei-
museum until 2007. This denition ving public, whose extreme passivity
states that a museum acquires, was rightly emphasised by McLuhan
conserves, researches, communicates and Parker (1969, 2008). This does
29
not mean that the visitor is not perso- Consequences include the many digi-
nally involved (whether interactively tal exhibitions or cyber-exhibitions
or not) in this type of communication (a eld in which a museum may have
(Hooper-Greenhill, 1991); (2) it is not genuine expertise), on-line cata-
essentially verbal, nor can it really be logues, more or less sophisticated
compared with reading a text (Daval- discussion forums, and forays into
lon, 1992), but it works through the social networks (YouTube, Twitter,
sensory presentation of the objects Facebook, etc.).
exhibited: The museum as a com- 4. The discussion regarding the
munication system, then, depends communication methods used by the
on the non-verbal language of the museum raises the question of trans-
objects and observable phenomena. mission. The chronic lack of interac-
It is primarily a visual language, and tivity in museum communication has
at times an aural or tactile language. led us to ask ourselves how we can
So intense is its communicative power make the visitor more active, while
that ethical responsibility in its use seeking his participation (McLuhan
must be a primary concern of the and Parker 1969, 2008). We could,
museum worker (Cameron, 1968). of course, remove the labels or even
3. More generally speaking, com- the story line so that the public could
munication gradually became the build their own rationale as they
driving force of museum operations move through the exhibition, but
towards the end of the 20th century. this would not make the communi-
This means that museums communi- cation interactive. The only places
cate in a specic way (using their own where a degree of interactivity has
methods), but also by using all other been developed (such as the Palais de
communication techniques, possibly la Dcouverte, the Cit des sciences et
at the risk of investing less in what de lindustrie in Paris, or the Explo-
is most central to their work. Many ratorium in San Francisco) seem clo-
museums the largest ones have ser to amusement parks that develop
a public relations department, or a fun attractions. It appears neverthe-
public programmes department, less that the real task of the museum
which develops activities aimed at is closer to transmission, understood
communicating to and reaching as unilateral communication over
various sectors of the public that are time so that each person can assimi-
more or less targeted, and involving late the cultural knowledge which
them through traditional or inno- conrms his humanity and places
vative activities (events, gatherings, him in society.
publications, extramural activities,
etc.), In this context the very large ) CORRELATED: CULTURAL ACTION, EXHIBITION,
EDUCATION, DISSEMINATION, INTERPRETATION, MEDIA,
sums invested by museums in their MEDIATION, TRANSMISSION, PUBLIC AWARENESS, PUBLIC
internet sites are a signicant part of RELATIONS.
the museums communication logic.

30
E
EDUC ATION knowledge. Knowledge, know-how,
being and knowing how to be are four
n. (Latin: educatio, educere, to guide, to lead major components in the educatio-
out of) Equivalent in French: ducation; Spa-
nish: educacin; German: Erziehung, Museums-
nal eld. The term education comes
pdagogik; Italian: istruzione; Portuguese: from the Latin educere, to lead out
educao. of (i.e. out of childhood) which assu-
mes a dimension of active accompa-
Generally speaking, education means niment in the transmission process.
the training and development of It is connected with the notion of
human beings and their capacities by awakening, which aims to arouse
implementing the appropriate means curiosity, to lead to questioning and
to do so. Museum education can be develop the capacity to think. The
dened as a set of values, concepts, purpose of informal education is thus
knowledge and practices aimed at to develop the senses and awareness;
ensuring the visitors development; it is a development process which pre-
it is a process of acculturation which supposes change and transformation
relies on pedagogical methods, deve- rather than conditioning and incul-
lopment, fullment, and the acquisi- cation, notions it tends to oppose.
tion of new knowledge. The shaping of it therefore happens
1. The concept education should be via instruction which conveys use-
dened in relation to other terms, the ful knowledge, and education which
rst of these being instruction, which makes this knowledge transformable
concerns the mind and is unders- and able to be reinvested by the indi-
tood as knowledge acquired by which vidual to further the process of his
one becomes skilful and learned becoming a human being.
(Toraille, 1985). Education relates 2. In a more specically museum
to both the heart and the mind, and context, education is the mobilisa-
is understood as knowledge which tion of knowledge stemming from
one aims to update in a relationship the museum and aimed at the deve-
which sets knowledge in motion to lopment and the fullment of indi-
develop understanding and indivi- viduals, through the assimilation of
dual reinvestment. Education is the this knowledge, the development of
action of developing moral, physical, new sensitivities and the realisation of
intellectual and scientic values, and new experiences. Museum pedagogy

31
is a theoretical and methodological the work according to the extent
framework at the service of educatio- to which he assimilates the content
nal activities in a museum environ- before him. Training assumes
ment, activities the main purpose of constraint and obligation, whereas
which is to impart knowledge (infor- the museum context supposes free-
mation, skills and attitudes) to the dom (Schouten, 1987). In Germany
visitor (Allard and Boucher, 1998). the term pedagogy, or Pdagogik is
Learning is dened as an act of per- used more frequently, and of the
ception, interaction and assimilation word used to describe education
of an object by an individual, which within museums is Museumspdago-
leads to an acquisition of knowledge gik. This refers to all the activities
or the development of skills or atti- that a museum may offer, regardless
tudes (Allard and Boucher, 1998). of the age, education or social bac-
Learning relates to the individual kground of the public concerned.
way in which a visitor assimilates the Z DERIVATIVES: ADULT EDUCATION, EDUCATIONAL
subject. With regard to the science of SCIENCES, EDUCATIONAL SERVICES, LIFE-LONG
education or intellectual training, if EDUCATION, INFORMAL OR NON-FORMAL EDUCATION,
pedagogy refers more to childhood MID-CAREER EDUCATION, MUSEUM EDUCATION, POPULAR
and is part of upbringing, the notion EDUCATION.

of didactic is considered as the theory ) CORRELATED: AWAKENING, CULTURAL ACTION,


CULTURAL ACTIVITIES, DEVELOPMENT, DIDACTIC,
of dissemination of knowledge, the
way to present knowledge to an INTERNSHIP, INSTRUCTION, MEDIATION, PEDAGOGY,
TEACHING, TRAINING, TRANSMISSION, UPBRINGING.
individual whatever his or her age.
Education is wider, and aims at the
autonomy of the individual. ETHICS
We can mention other related
concepts which shade and enrich n. (From the Greek ethos: customs, charac-
ter) Equivalent French: thique; Spanish:
these different approaches. The
etica; German: Ethik; Italian: ethica; Portu-
concepts of museum activities or guese: tica.
cultural action, like that of interpreta-
tion or mediation, are often invoked Generally speaking, ethics are a phi-
to describe the work carried out with losophical discipline in philosophy
the public in the museums efforts that deals with identifying values
at transmission. I am teaching you which will guide both private and
says a teacher, I am allowing you to public human conduct. Far from
know says a mediator (Caillet and being a simple synonym of morality,
Lehalle, 1995) (see Mediation). This as is currently believed, ethics is the
distinction aims to reect the diffe- opposite in so far as the choice of
rence between the act of training, values is not imposed by a specic
and a process of awareness appea- set of rules, but rather freely chosen
ling to an individual who will nish by the individual taking action. This

32
distinction is essential because of its democracies determine values. This
consequences for museums, since fundamental distinction still inuen-
the museum is an institution, that is ces the division between two types
to say a phenomenon which exists by of museums or two ways of operating
common agreement and which can even today. Some very traditional
be altered. museums such as ne arts museums
Within the museum, ethics can seem to follow a pre-established
be dened as the discussion process order: their collections appear to
aimed at identifying the basic values be sacred and dene a model of
and principles on which the work of conduct by different actors (curators
the museum relies. Ethics lead to the and visitors), and a crusading spirit
drawing up of principles set out in in the way they carry out their tasks.
museums codes of ethics, of which On the other hand, some museums,
the ICOM code is one example. perhaps more attentive to the prac-
1. Ethics are aimed at guiding a tical reality of peoples lives, do not
museums conduct. In a moral vision consider themselves subject to abso-
of the world, reality is subject to a lute values and continuously reas-
moral order which determines the sess them. These may be museums
place occupied by each person. This more in touch with real life, such
order constitutes a perfection towards as anthropology museums, striving
which each being must strive by ful- to grasp an ethnic reality which is
lling his function perfectly, and this often uctuating, or so-called social
is known as virtue (Plato, Cicero, museums for which questions and
etc.). By contrast, the ethical vision of practical choices (political or social)
the world is based on a chaotic and are more important than the religion
disorganised world, left to chance of collections.
and without any xed bearings. 2. While the distinction between
Faced with this universal disorder, ethical and moral is quite clear in
individuals are the only judge of what French and Spanish, the term in
is best for them (Nietzsche, Deleuze); English is more open to confusion
they alone must decide for themsel- (thique in French can be trans-
ves what is good or bad. Between lated as ethic or also as moral in
these two radical positions that are English). Thus the English version
moral order and ethical disorder, a of the ICOM Code of Ethics (2006)
middle road is conceivable in so far in appears in French as Code de
as it is possible for people to agree dontologie (Cdigo de deontologa
freely among themselves to recognise in Spanish). The vision expressed in
common values (such as the principle the code is, however clearly prescrip-
of respect for human beings). Again tive and normative (and very similar
this is an ethical point of view which to that expressed in the codes of the
on the whole governs the way modern UK Museums Association and the

33
American Association of Museums). in development (as proposed by
It is laid out in eight chapters which Strnsk), because the study of the
identify basic measures to allow the birth and the evolution of museums
(supposedly) harmonious develo- does not follow the methods of both
pment of the museum institution human and natural sciences in so far
within society: (1) Museums take as it is an institution that is mallea-
care of the protection, documenta- ble and can be reshaped. However,
tion and promotion of the natural as a tool of social life, museums
and cultural heritage of humanity demand that endless choices are
(institutional, physical and nancial made to determine the use to which
resources needed to open a museum). they will be put. And precisely here,
(2) Museums which maintain collec- the choice of the ends to which this
tions hold them in trust for the bene- body of methods may be subjected
t of society and its development is none other than a choice of ethics.
(issues of acquisition and deaccession In this sense museology can be de-
of collections). (3) Museums hold pri- ned as museal ethics, because it is
mary evidence for building up and ethics which decide what a museum
furthering knowledge (deontology of should be and the ends to which it
research or of collecting evidence). should be used. This is the ethical
(4) Museums provide opportunities context in which it was possible for
for the appreciation, understanding ICOM to build a deontological code
and management of the natural and for the management of museums,
cultural heritage (deontology of exhi- a deontology which constitutes a
biting). (5) Museums hold resources code of ethics common to a socio-
that provide opportunities for other professional category and serving it
services and benets to the public as a paralegal framework.
(issues of expertise). (6) Museums
work in close collaboration with ) CORRELATED: MORAL, VALUES, DEONTOLOGY.
the communities from which their
collections originate as well as with EXHIBITION
those that they serve (issues of cultu-
n. (early 15c., from O.Fr. exhibicion, from
ral property). (7) Museums operate
Latin exhibitionem, nom. exhibitio, from exhi-
in a legal manner (respect for the bere to show, display, lit. to hold out, from
rule of law). (8) Museums operate in ex- out and habere to hold) Equivalent
a professional manner (professional French: (from the Latin expositio, gen. espoi-
conduct and conicts of interest). tionis: expos, explication) exposition; Spa-
nish: exposicin; German: Austellung; Italian:
3. The third impact on museums
esposizione, mostra; Portuguese: exposio,
of the concept of ethics is its contri- exhibio.
bution to the denition of museology
as museal ethics. From this pers- The term exhibition refers to
pective, museology is not a science the result of the action of displaying

34
something, as well as the whole of the setting out of exhibits of all kinds
that which is displayed, and the place in a space for public viewing; also the
where it is displayed. Let us consi- exhibits themselves, and the space in
der a denition of the exhibition which the show takes place. From
borrowed from outside and not draf- this viewpoint, each of these mea-
ted by ourselves. This term along nings denes somewhat different
with its abbreviated term exhibit elements.
means the act of displaying things to 1. The exhibition, understood as
the public, the objects displayed (the the container or the place where the
exhibits), and the area where this dis- contents are on display (just as the
play takes place (Davallon, 1986). museum appears both as a function
Borrowed from the Latin expositio, and as a building) is characterised
the French term exposition (in old not by the architecture of this space
French exposicun, at the beginning but by the place itself. Even though
of the 12th century) rst had at the the exhibition appears to be one of
same time the gurative meaning of the characteristics of museums, exhi-
an explanation, an expos, the lite- bition thus has a far broader reach
ral meaning of an exposition (of an because it can also be set up by a
abandoned child, still used in Spa- prot-making organisation (market,
nish in the term expsito), and the store, art gallery). It can be organised
general meaning of display. From in an enclosed space, but also in the
there (in the 16th century) the French open air (in a park or a street) or in
word exposition had the meaning situ, that is to say without moving the
of presenting (merchandise), then objects from their original sites natu-
(in the 17th century) it could mean ral, historical or archaeological sites.
abandonment, initial presentation Seen from this perspective exhibi-
(to explain a work) or situation (of tion areas are dened not only by the
a building). In 18th century France container and the contents but also
the word exhibition, as a display of by the users visitors and museum
art works, had the same meaning in professionals that is to say the peo-
French as in English, but the French ple who enter this specic area and
use of the word exhibition to refer to share in the general experience of the
the presentation of art later gave way other visitors at the exhibition. The
to exposition. On the other hand, the place of the exhibition is thus a spe-
word exposition in English means cic place of social interaction, the
(1) the setting forth of a meaning or effects of which can be assessed. Evi-
intent, or (2) a trade show, thus pre- dence of this is provided by the deve-
serving the earlier meanings of the lopment of visitor studies, and the
French. Today both the French expo- growth of a specic eld of research
sition and the English exhibition have connected with the communication
the same meaning, which applies to aspect of the place and with all the

35
interactions specic to this place, or than to mark objectivity, to guaran-
to all the images and ideas that this tee distance (creating a distancing,
place might evoke. as Bertolt Brecht said of the theatre)
2. As a result of the act of dis- and let us know that we are in ano-
playing, exhibitions are seen today ther world, a world of the articial,
as one of the main functions of the of the imaginary.
museum which, according to the 3. Exhibitions, when they are
latest denition by ICOM, acquires, understood as the entirety of the
conserves, researches, communicates objects displayed, include musealia,
and exhibits the tangible and intan- museum objects or real things,
gible heritage of humanity Accor- along with substitutes (casts, copies,
ding to the PRC model (Reinwardt photos, etc.), display material (display
Academie), exhibition is part of the tools, such as show cases, partitions
museums more general function of or screens), and information tools
communication, which also includes (such as texts, lms or other multi-
policies for education and publica- media), and utilitarian signage. From
tion. From this point of view exhi- this perspective the exhibition works
bitions are a fundamental feature as a specic communication system
of museums, in so far as these prove (McLuhan and Parker, 1969; Came-
themselves to be excellent places for ron, 1968) based on real things
sensory perception, by presenting and accompanied by other artefacts
objects to view (that is, visualisation), which allow the visitor to better iden-
monstration (the act of demonstra- tify their signicance. In this context,
ting proof), ostention (initially the each of the elements present in the
holding up of sacred objects for ado- exhibition (museum objects, substi-
ration). The visitor is in the presence tutes, texts, etc.) can be dened as an
of concrete elements which can be exhibit. In such a situation it is not a
displayed for their own importance question of rebuilding reality, which
(pictures, relics), or to evoke concepts cannot be relocated in the museum
or mental constructs (transubstantia- (a real thing in a museum is already
tion, exoticism). If museums can be a substitute for reality and an exhi-
dened as places of musealisation bition can only offer images which
and visualisation, exhibitions then are analogous with that reality). The
appear as the explanatory visualisa- exhibition communicates reality
tion of absent facts through objects, through this mechanism. Exhibits in
and methods used to display these, an exhibition work as signs (semio-
used as signs (Schrer, 2003). Show- tics), and the exhibition is presented
cases and picture rails are artices as a communication process which
which serve to separate the real is most often unilateral, incomplete
world and the imaginary world of and interpretable in ways that are
museums. They serve no other role often very different. The term exhi-

36
bition as used here differs from that whether or not the exhibition was
of presentation, in so far as the rst of a prot-making nature (research
term corresponds, if not to a dis- exhibition, blockbuster, stage show
course, physical and didactic, then at exhibition, commercial exhibition),
least to a large complex of items that and according to the general concept
have been put on view, whereas the of the museographer (exhibit design
second evokes the showing of goods for the object, for the point of view or
in a market or department store, approach, etc.). And we note that the
which could be passive, even if in seeing visitor has become more and
both cases a specialist (display desi- more involved in this great range of
gner, exhibition designer) is needed possibilities.
to reach the desired level of quality. 4. The French words exposition
These two levels presentation and and exhibition differ, in so far as
exhibition explain the difference exhibition now has a pejorative mea-
between exhibition design and exhi- ning. Towards 1760 the word exhi-
bit display. In the rst case the desi- bition could be used in French and
gner starts with the space and uses in English to indicate an exhibition
the exhibits to furnish the space, of paintings, but the meaning of the
while in the second he starts with word has been degraded in French to
the exhibits and strives to nd the indicate activities that are clearly for
best way to express them, the best show (sport exhibitions), or indecent
language to make the exhibits speak. in the eyes of the society where the
These differences of expression have exhibition takes place. This is the
varied during different periods, case for the derivatives exhibitionist
according to tastes and styles, and and exhibitionism in English, which
according to the relative importance refer even more specically to inde-
of the people installing the space cent acts. Criticism of exhibitions
(decorators, exhibition designers, is often the most virulent when it
display designers, stage designers), takes the approach that the exhibi-
but the modes of exhibition also vary tion is not what it should be and by
according to the disciplines and the association, what a museum should
objective of the show. The answers do but has become a hawker show,
to the questions regarding to show far too commercial, or offensive to
and to communicate cover a vast the public.
eld allowing us to sketch the his- 5. The development of new tech-
tory and typology of exhibitions. nologies and computer-aided design
We can imagine the media that were have popularised the creation of
used (objects, texts, moving images, museums on the internet with exhi-
environments, digital information bitions that can only be visited on
technology, mono-media and multi- screen or via digital media. Rather
media exhibitions); according to than using the term virtual exhibi-

37
tion (the exact meaning of which Z DERIVATIVES: AGRICULTURAL EXHIBITION,
would be a possible exhibition, that COMMERCIAL EXHIBITION, CYBER EXHIBITION, EXHIBIT,
is to say a potential reply to the ques- EXHIBITION CATALOGUE, EXHIBITION CURATOR, EXHIBITION
DESIGN, EXHIBITION DESIGNER, EXHIBITION GALLERIES,
tion of showing), we prefer the
EXHIBITION PRACTICE, EXHIBITION SCENARIO, EXHIBITION
terms digital or cyber exhibition to STUDIES, EXHIBITOR, IN SITU EXHIBITION, INTERNATIONAL
refer to these particular exhibitions EXHIBITION, NATIONAL EXHIBITION, OPEN AIR EXHIBITION,
seen on the internet. They open up PERMANENT EXHIBITION (A LONG OR SHORT TERM
possibilities (collecting objects, new EXHIBITION), TEMPORARY EXHIBITION, TRAVELLING
ways of display, analysis, etc) that EXHIBITION, TO EXHIBIT, UNIVERSAL EXHIBITION.
traditional exhibitions of material
objects do not always have. While
) CORRELATED: COMMUNICATION, DECORATOR,
DEMONSTRATION, DIDACTIC OBJECT, DIORAMA, DISPLAY,
for the time being they are hardly DISPLAY TOOL, EXPOSITION, FAIR, FICTIONAL REALITY,
competition for exhibitions of real GALLERY, HANGING, INSTALLATION, INSTALLING SPACE,
objects in traditional museums, it MEANS, MECHANISM, MEDIA, MESSAGE, METAPHOR,
MONSTRATION, OPENING, OSTENTION, PICTURE RAIL,
is not impossible that their develo-
POSTING, PRESENTATION, PROJECT MANAGER, REALITY,
pment will affect the methods cur- REPRESENTATION, STAGE SETTING, SHOW, SHOWCASE,
rently used by museums. SOCIAL SPACE, SPACE, STAGE DESIGN, VISUALISATION.

38
H
HERITAGE ment, while one of the rst to reco-
gnise the term patrimonio, continued
n. Equivalent in French: patrimoine; Spanish: to use the expression beni culturali
patrimonio; German: Natur- und Kulturerbe;
Italian: patrimonio; Portuguese: patrimnio.
(cultural goods). The idea of heritage
is inevitably tied to that of potential
The notion of heritage (patrimonium) loss or disappearance as was the
in Roman law referred to all the case after the French Revolution
assets received by succession, assets and at the same time to the will to
which, according to law, are inhe- preserve these goods. Heritage can
rited by children from fathers and be recognised by the fact that its loss
mothers; family assets, as opposed means a sacrice and that its conser-
to assets acquired since marriage. By vation also presupposes sacrices
analogy, two metaphorical uses were (Babelon et Chastel, 1980).
born later. (1) Recently the expression 1. Starting with the French Revo-
genetic heritage to describe the lution and throughout the 19th cen-
hereditary features of a living being; tury, heritage essentially referred to
(2) earlier the concept of cultural immovable property and was gene-
heritage seems to have appeared rally confused with the idea of his-
in the 17th century (Leibniz, 1690) torical monuments. A monument, in
before being taken up again by the original sense of the word, is a
the French Revolution (Puthod de construction intended to perpetuate
Maisonrouge, 1790); Boissy dAn- the memory of somebody or some
glas, 1794). The term, however, has thing. Alos Riegl identied three
many more or less broad meanings. categories of monuments: those
Because of its etymology, the term that were conceived intentionally
and the notion that it infers have to commemorate a specic time or
spread more widely in Romance a complex event in the past (inten-
languages since the 1930s (Desval- tional monuments), those chosen
les, 1995) than in the Anglo-Saxon by subjective preferences (histori-
world, which favoured the term pro- cal monuments), and nally all the
perty (goods) before adopting the creations of mankind, independent
term heritage in around the 1950s, of their signicance or their origi-
while differentiating it from legacy. nal intent (ancient monuments)
In the same way the Italian govern- (Riegl, 1903). According to the prin-

39
ciples of history, history of art, and rably wider. Thus folklore heritage,
archaeology, the last two catego- scientic heritage and then industrial
ries essentially belong to the cate- heritage were gradually integrated
gory of immovable heritage. Until into the concept of heritage. The de-
very recently the Directorate of the nition of heritage in French-speaking
Heritage of France, whose princi- Qubec also followed this general
ple purpose was the preservation of tendency: May be considered heri-
historical monuments, was separate tage all objects or groups of objects,
from the Directorate of the Museums material or intangible, that are col-
of France (French Museums Board). lectively recognised or appropriated
Today it is not unusual to nd peo- for their value as evidence and histo-
ple supporting this differentiation, rical memory and which merit being
which is at the very least strict. Even protected, preserved, and enhanced
when expanded worldwide under
(Arpin, 2000). This concept refers to
the aegis of UNESCO, the idea that
all natural or man-made goods and
is fostered especially by ICOMOS,
values, whether material or intan-
the equivalent of ICOM for histori-
gible, without restriction of time or
cal monuments, is rst of all based
essentially on monuments and on space, whether they be simply inheri-
groups of monuments and sites. ted from the forbears of earlier gene-
Thus the Convention on the World rations or gathered and preserved to
Cultural Heritage stipulates: For be transmitted to the descendants
the purposes of this Convention, the of future generations. Heritage is a
following shall be considered cultu- public good; its preservation must
ral heritage: monuments: architec- be assumed by the community when
tural works, works of monumental individuals fail to do so. Individual
sculpture and painting, [] groups local natural and cultural characte-
of buildings: groups of separate or ristics contribute to the conception
connected buildings, [] because of and building of the universal cha-
their architecture, [] sites: works racter of heritage. The concept of
of man or the combined works of heritage differs from the concept of
nature and man, []. For the purpo- inheritance with regard to time and
ses of this Convention the following events: whereas inheritance is iden-
shall be considered natural heritage: tied immediately after a death or
natural features, [] geological when there is a transferral of goods
and physiographical formations from one generation to another, heri-
[] natural sites or natural areas. tage denes all the goods received or
(UNESCO 1972). gathered and safeguarded by earlier
2. From the mid 1950s, the notion generations that will be transmitted
of heritage gradually incorporated to their descendants. To a certain
all material evidence of man and his extent, heritage can be a line of inhe-
environment and became conside- ritances.

40
3. For some years the notion of heri- moting respect for cultural diversity
tage, essentially dened on the basis and human creativity. For the purpo-
of a western concept of transmission, ses of this Convention, consideration
has felt the impact of the globalisation will be given solely to such intangible
of ideas, such as the relatively recent cultural heritage as is compatible
concept of intangible heritage. This with existing international human
concept, of Asian origin (in particu- rights instruments, as well as with
lar from Japan and Korea) is founded the requirements of mutual respect
on the idea that transmission, to be among communities, groups and
effective, must essentially be done by individuals, and of sustainable deve-
human carriers, from whence evol- lopment. (UNESCO, 2003).
ved the idea of living human treasu- 4. Heritage covers a eld that has
res: Living human treasure refers become increasingly complex, and in
to a person who excels above others the past few years the uncertainties
in performing music, dance, games, of its transmission have led to more
plays and rituals which are of outs- focused thinking on the mechanisms
tanding artistic and historical value of building and extending heritage:
in their respective countries as envi- what exactly is the process of heri-
saged in the Recommendation on the tage building? Much contemporary
Safeguarding of Traditional Cultures research analyses the institution of
and Folklore (UNESCO, 1993). heritage building beyond the empiri-
This principle was accepted inter- cal approach, seeing it as the result of
nationally and endorsed in the 2003 strategies and interventions focused
Convention for the Safeguarding of on marking and signals (framing).
the Intangible Cultural Heritage. Thus the idea of heritage building is
necessary to understand the position
The intangible cultural heritage in society that heritage represents,
means the practices, representations, rather as others speak of the idea of
expressions, knowledge, skills as artication (Shapiro, 2004) with
well as the instruments, objects, regard to works of art. Heritage is a
artefacts and cultural spaces asso- cultural process or performance that
ciated therewith that communities, is concerned with the types of pro-
groups and, in some cases, indivi- duction and the negotiation of cultu-
duals recognize as part of their cultu- ral identity, individual and collective
ral heritage. This intangible cultural memory, and social and cultural
heritage, transmitted from generation values (Smith, 2007). If we accept
to generation, is constantly recreated that heritage is the result of the foun-
by communities and groups in res- ding of a certain number of values,
ponse to their environment, their this implies that these values are the
interaction with nature and their his- basis of heritage. These values should
tory, and provides them with a sense be examined, but also sometimes
of identity and continuity, thus pro- contested.
41
5. The institution of heritage notion of collective cultural heritage,
also has its detractors: people who which only transposes the legal and
question its origins and the abusive economic lexicon to the moral eld,
fetishist value attached to the forms appears suspicious, to say the least,
of the underlying culture, in the and can be analysed as being part of
name of western humanism. In the that which Marx and Engels called
strictest sense of the word, that is to ideology, that is to say a by-product
say in the anthropological sense, our of a socio-economic context inten-
cultural heritage is only made up of ded to serve special interests. The
very modest practices and skills. To internationalisation of the concept
a far greater extent it depends on the of heritage is [] not only false, but
ability to make and use these tools, dangerous in so far as one imposes a
especially when these are xed as whole set of knowledge and prejudi-
objects inside a museum showcase. ces whose criteria are the expression
Too often we forget that the most ela- of values built on aesthetic, moral,
borate and powerful tool invented by and cultural received ideas, in short
man is the concept, the instrument an ideology of a caste in a society
for developing thought, which is very whose structures are not compati-
difcult to arrange in a showcase. ble with those of the third world in
Cultural heritage understood as the general and Africa in particular
sum total of the common evidence of (Adotevi, 1971). It is all the more
humankind has been severely criti- suspect because it coexists with the
cised for being a new dogma (Choay, private nature of economic property
1992) in a society which has lost its and seems to serve as the consolation
religious bearings. It is possible, prize for the deprived.
moreover, to list the successive stages Z DERIVATIVES: HERITOLOGY, INHERITANCE.
of building this recent product: heri-
tage reappropriation (Vicq dAzyr, ) CORRELATED: COMMUNITY, CULTURAL PROPERTY,
CULTURAL RELIC, EXHIBIT, EVIDENCE, IDENTITY, IMAGE,
1794), spiritual connotation (Hegel, LEGACY, LIVING HUMAN TREASURE, MATERIAL CULTURE,
1807), mystical, disinterested conno- MEMORY, MESSAGE, MONUMENT, NATIONAL TREASURE,
tation (Renan, 1882) and nally, OBJECT, PATRIMONY, REALITY, SEMIOPHORE (SEE
humanism (Malraux, 1947). The OBJECT) SUBJECT, TERRITORY, THINGS, VALUE, WITNESS.

42
I
INSTITUTION common sense of that which rela-
tes to museums) it is often used as a
n. (From the Latin institutio, convention, set-
synonym for museum, most often
ting up, establishment, arrangement). Equiva-
lent in French: institution; Spanish: institucin; to avoid excessive repetition of the
German: Institution; Italian: istituzione; Portu- word museum. The concept of ins-
guese: instituio. titution, for which there are three
precise accepted meanings, is never-
Generally speaking an institution
theless central to debates regarding
indicates a convention established by
museums.
mutual agreement between people,
being thus arbitrary but also histori- 1. There are two levels of institu-
cally dated. Institutions are elements tions, according to the nature of the
in the broad range of solutions that need they are intended to satisfy.
mankind has created to answer the This need may be rst of all biolo-
problems raised by the natural needs gical (need to eat, to reproduce, to
of life in a society (Malinowski, sleep, etc.) or secondly the result of
1944). More specically, institution the demands of living in a society
refers to an organism that is public or (need for organisation, defence,
private, established by society to ll a health, etc.). These two levels cor-
specic need. The museum is an ins- respond to two types of institution
titution in the sense that it is gover- that are unequally restrictive: meals,
ned by an identied legal system of marriage, lodging on the one hand,
public or private law (see the terms and the State, the army, schools, hos-
Management and Public). Whether pitals, on the other. In so far as they
it is based on the concept of public meet a social need (sensory relation
trust (in Anglo-Saxon law) or public to objects) museums belong to the
ownership (in France from the Revo- second category.
lution), demonstrates, beyond the 2. ICOM denes museum as a per-
differences in conventions, a mutual manent institution in the service of
agreement between the people in a society and its development. In this
society, that is to say an institution. sense the institution is a construction
In French, when the term is asso- created by man in the museal (see this
ciated with the general qualier term) eld, and organised in order to
museal (institution musale, in the enter into a sensory relationship with

43
objects. The museum institution, extend beyond the institutional fra-
created and maintained by society, mework. In its strict sense, the term
rests on a collection of standards virtual museum (existing in essence
and rules (preventive conservation, but not in fact) takes account of these
forbidden to touch objects or display museal experiences on the margin of
substitutes while presenting them institutional reality.
as originals) which are founded on This is why in many countries, in
a value system: preservation of heri- particular in Canada and Belgium,
tage, presentation of works of art people use the expression museal
and unique pieces, the dissemination institution (institution musale) to
of current scientic knowledge, etc. identify an establishment which
Emphasising the institutional nature does not have all the characteristics
of museum thus means strengthening of a traditional museum. By museal
its normative role and the authority it institutions, we mean non-prot esta-
has in science and the ne arts, for blishments, museums, exhibition and
example, or the idea that museums interpretation centres which, besides
remain in the service of society and the functions of acquisition, conser-
its development. vation, research and management of
3. In contrast to the English, which collections that some may carry out,
does not precisely differentiate have in common that they are pla-
between them (and in general to the ces of education and dissemination
way they are used in Belgium and in dedicated to the arts, history and the
Canada too), the terms institution and sciences. (Socit des muses qub-
establishment are not synonymous. cois, Observatoire de la culture et des
Museum, as an institution, is diffe- communauts du Qubec, 2004).
rent from museum as an establish- 4. Finally, the term museal insti-
ment, a specic concrete place: The tution can be de ned, like nan-
museal establishment is a concrete cial institution (the IMF or the
form of the museal institution World Bank) as all the national or
(Maroevic, 2007). One should note international bodies which govern
that questioning of the institution, museum operations, such as ICOM
even purely and simply denying it (as or the former Direction des muses
in the case of Malrauxs imaginary de France.
museum or the ctitious museum of
the artist Marcel Broodthaers) does Z DERIVATIVES: INSTITUTIONAL, MUSEAL INSTITUTION.
not mean that it has left the museal
eld, in so far as the museal eld can
) CORRELATED: ESTABLISHMENT, PUBLIC DOMAIN,
PUBLIC OWNERSHIP, PUBLIC TRUST, VIRTUAL MUSEUM.

44
M
MANAGEMENT service, aid, handling) was used to
dene this type of museum activity,
n. Equivalent French: gestion; Spanish: ges-
but also, more generally, all the acti-
tin; German: Verwaltung, Administration; Ita-
lian: gestione; Portuguese: gesto. vities necessary to make a museum
function. The treatise of museology
Museum management is dened by George Brown Goode, Museum
today as the action of ensuring the Administration (1896), examines the
running of the museums adminis- aspects connected with the study of
trative business and, more gene- the display of collections and the daily
rally, all the activities which are management, while also addressing
not directly attached to the specic the overall vision of the museum and
elds of museum work (preservation, its integration into society. Rightfully
research and communication). In this derived from the civil service ratio-
regard, museum management essen- nale, the act of administering means,
tially encompasses tasks relating to whether referring to a public or a pri-
nancial (accounting, management vate service, ensuring that it operates
control, nances) and legal respon- properly while taking responsibility
sibilities, to security and upkeep, to for initiating and running all its acti-
staff management and to marketing vities. The notion of (public) service,
as well as to strategic procedures or even, with its religious undertones,
and the general planning of museum that of vocation, is closely related to
activities. The term management is administration.
of Anglo-Saxon origin (although We are aware of the bureaucratic
the Anglo-Saxon term comes from connotation of the term adminis-
the French mange and mnage), tration since it is used in connec-
and is currently used in French with tion with the (dys)function of public
the same meaning. The guidelines authorities. So it is not surprising that
or style of management illustrate the general evolution of economic
a certain concept of museums in theory in the last quarter of a century,
particular its relationship to public favouring the market economy, has
service. led to increasingly frequent recourse
Traditionally the term administra- to the concept of management,
tion (from the Latin administratio, which had been in use for a long

45
time within prot-making organisa- ciations of friends of the museum.
tions. The concepts of market launch Although donations and volunteer
and museum marketing, like the activities are properly and implicitly
development of tools for museums taken into account, this aspect has
that have resulted from businesses been less examined for its medium
(dening strategies, focusing on the and long-term impact on museum
public/visitor, resource management, management.
fundraising, etc.) has considerably Z DERIVATIVES: MANAGER, COLLECTION
changed the museums themselves. MANAGEMENT
Thus some of the conicts regarding
museum organisation and policies ) CORRELATED: ADMINISTRATION, BLOCKBUSTERS,
BOARD OF DIRECTORS, ENTRANCE FEES, FEASIBILITY
have been directly conditioned by STUDY, FUNDRAISING, FRIENDS, HUMAN RESOURCES,
the conict, within the museum MISSION STATEMENT, MUSEUM MARKETING, MUSEUM
itself, between a market rationale and TRUSTEES, NON-PROFIT ORGANISATIONS, PERFORMANCE
a more traditional rationale of gover- MARKERS, PROJECTS, PLANNING, STRATEGY,
VOLUNTEERS.
nance by public authorities. The
result has been the development of
new forms of nancing (expansion of
the ranges of museum shops, renting MEDIATION
of premises, reintroducing entrance (INTERPRETATION)
fees, developing popular temporary n. (from 15 th century Vulgar Latin: mediatio,
exhibitions blockbusters or even de mediare) Equivalent in French: mdiation;
Spanish: mediacin; German: Vermittlung; Ita-
selling objects from the collection.
lian: mediazione; Portuguese: mediao.
Increasingly these tasks which were
auxiliary when they rst began have Mediation is the translation of the
had a real impact on the conduct of French mdiation, which has the
other museum tasks, to the point same general museum meaning as
that they have sometimes been deve- interpretation. Mediation is dened
loped to the detriment of the other as an action aimed at reconciling par-
operations required for preservation, ties or bringing them to agreement.
research and even communication. In the context of the museum, it is
The specicity of museum mana- the mediation between the museum
gement, which may be structured public and what the museum gives
around the sometimes contradictory its public to see; intercession, inter-
or hybrid logics of the market on the mediate, mediator. Etymologically
one hand, and the public authorities we nd in mediation the root med,
on the other hand, derives from the meaning middle, a root which can
fact that it is structured around the be found in many languages besides
logic of giving (Mauss, 1923), through English (Spanish medio, German
donations of objects and money or mitte) and which reminds us that
the actions of volunteers and asso- mediation is connected with the idea

46
of being in the median position, that being taken care of by the media
of a third element which places itself and to describe their circulation
between two distant poles and acts in the whole social sphere. The
as an intermediary. While this posi- cultural sphere is seen as a dynamic,
tion characterises the legal aspects of nebulous area where products mix
mediation, where someone negotiates together and take over from one ano-
in order to reconcile adversaries and ther. Here the reciprocal mediation
reach a modus vivendi, it also points of cultural products leads to the idea
to the meaning that this concept of intermediality, of the relationship
takes in the cultural and scientic e between medias and the way in which
ld of museology. Here too mediation one media television or cinema for
is an in-between, lling a space that it example translates forms of pro-
will try to reduce, creating a connec- duction made in another media (a
tion or even acceptance. novel adapted for the cinema). These
1. The notion of mediation works creations reach their targets by one
on several levels: on the philosophical or other of the various technical aids
level it served Hegel and his disciples that make up their mediatisation.
to describe the movement of history From this angle, analysis shows that
itself. Dialectics, the driving force many mediations are set in motion by
of history, advances by successive complex chains of different agents
mediations: a rst situation (the the- to guarantee content in the cultural
sis) must pass through the mediation sphere and ensure that this content
of its opposite (antithesis) to progress reaches a broad public.
to a new condition (synthesis) which 2. In museology the term media-
retains something of each of the two tion has been in frequent use in
preceding moments. France and in European French-
The general concept of media- speaking zones for more than a
tion also leads us to think about decade, when speaking of cultural
the institution of culture itself as mediation, or scientic mediation
the transmission of that common and mediator. Essentially it refers
heritage which unites the members to a whole range of actions carried
of a community and in which they out in a museal context in order to
recognise themselves. In this sense build bridges between that which
of the word mediation, it is through is exhibited (seeing) and the mea-
the mediation of its culture that indi- nings that these objects and sites may
viduals perceive and understand the carry (knowledge). Mediation some-
world and their own identity; several times seeks to favour the sharing of
writers speak of symbolic mediation. experiences and social interactions
Again in the cultural eld, mediation between visitors, and the emergence
acts to analyse the making public of of common references. This is an
ideas and cultural products their educational communication strategy,

47
which mobilises diverse technolo- by the museum. When the viewer
gies around the collections exhibited stands face to face with works pro-
to give visitors the means to better duced by other humans it is through
understand certain aspects of these mediation that he or she can arrive at
and to share in their appropriation. a special subjectivity which can ins-
The term thus touches on the nei- pire self-knowledge and understan-
ghbouring museological concepts of ding of ones own human adventure.
communication and museum public This approach makes the museum,
relations, and especially interpreta- the custodian of the evidence and
tion, very much present in the Anglo- signs of humanity, one of the best
Saxon museum world and on North places for this inescapable media-
American sites where it overlaps tion which, in offering contact with
to a great extent with the notion of the world of cultural works, leads
mediation. Interpretation, like media- each person on the path of a greater
tion, assumes a divergence, a distance understanding of self, and of reality
that must be overcome between that as a whole.
which is immediately perceived and Z DERIVATIVES: MEDIATION, MEDIATOR, TO MEDIATE.
the underlying meanings of natural,
cultural or historical phenomena. ) CORRELATED: ACTIVITIES, EDUCATION,
INTERCESSION, INTERPRETATION, POPULARISATION,
Like means of mediation, interpre- PUBLIC RELATIONS, VISITOR EXPERIENCE.
tation materialises in interpersonal
human actions and in aids which
enhance the straightforward display MUSEAL
of exhibited objects to suggest their
meaning and importance. Born in the adj. Equivalent in French: musal; Spanish:
museal; German: museal; Italian: museale;
context of American natural parks, Portuguese: museal.
the notion of interpretation has since
expanded to mean the hermeneutic The word has two meanings in
nature of the experience of visiting French (one when it is used as an
museums and sites. Thus it can be adjective to qualify museum and
dened as a revelation and unveiling another when it is used as a noun),
which leads visitors to understand, but only one in English, where it has
and then to appreciate, and nally to been rarely used until now, to qualify
protect the heritage which it takes as a eld covering more than the classi-
its object. cal notion of museum. The museal
In the end, mediation compri- eld covers not only the creation,
ses a central notion in a philosophy development and operation of the
which is hermeneutic and reective museum institution but also reec-
(Paul Ricur). It plays a fundamen- tions on its foundations and issues.
tal role in each visitors quest for self- The museal eld of reference is cha-
knowledge, a knowledge facilitated racterised by a specic approach,

48
which establishes a viewpoint on eld. This has two consequences:
reality with regard to the world of (1) It was not museums that gave rise
heritage (to consider something from to museology, but rather museology
the museal angle, for example, means that founded museums (the Coperni-
to ask oneself whether it is possible can revolution); (2) This allows us to
to preserve it for exhibition to the understand that experiences which
public). Museology can thus be de- are of a different nature to those
ned as all the attempts to theorise usually identied with museums
or think critically about the museal (collections, building, institution)
eld, or as the ethics and philosophy are part of the same problem, and
of that which is museal. to accept museums of substitutes,
1. Museal identies a specic museums without collections, extra-
relation to reality (Strnsk, 1987; mural museums, towns as museums
Gregorov, 1980). This places it (Quatremre de Quincy, 1796),
alongside politics and on the same and ecomuseums or even cyber
level as social life, religion, demo- museums.
graphics, economics and so on. Each 3. The specicity of the museal
example is a sphere or an original eld, in other words, that which
eld in which problems will be raised makes it unequivocal compared
which will be answered by concepts. to neighbouring elds, lies in two
Thus the same phenomenon can aspects: (1) sensory display, which sets
be found at the point where several the museal apart from the textual,
levels meet or, to speak in terms of managed in a library, which offers
multidimensional statistical analy- a documentation relayed through
sis, it will project itself onto several the medium of writing (mainly that
heterogeneous levels. For example, which is printed; books) and which
GMO (genetically modied orga- requires not only the knowledge of
nisms) can be simultaneously a a language but also the ability to
technical problem (biotechnology), read. This procures an experience
a health problem (risks regarding which is more abstract and more
the biosphere), a political problem theoretical at the same time. On the
(ecological issues), and also a museal other hand, a museum does not need
problem: some social museums have any of these aptitudes, because the
decided to stage exhibitions on the documentation it proposes is above
risks and the issues of GMO. all sensory, perceivable by sight and
2. This position of museal as a sometimes by hearing, more rarely by
theoretical eld of reference opens the three other senses of touch, taste
considerable avenues to expanded and smell. This means that an illi-
thinking, because the museum as terate person or even a young child
institution now appears to be just one can always gain something from a
illustration or example of the entire museum visit, whereas they would

49
be incapable of using the resources Z DERIVATIVES: MUSEAL FIELD, MUSEALIA,
of a library. This also explains expe- MUSEALITY, MUSEALISATION.
riences of visits adapted for blind or
partially sighted people, where other ) CORRELATED: MUSEOLOGY, MUSEUM,
MUSEUMIFICATION (PEJORATIVE), REALITY, SENSORY
senses are called in to play (hearing DISPLAY, SENSORY EXPERIENCE, SPECIFIC RELATION.
and especially touch) to discover
the sensory aspects of the exhibits.
A painting or a sculpture is made to
be seen rst of all, and reference to MUSEALISATION
a text (or reading a placard if there n. Equivalent in French: musalisation;
is one) only comes afterwards and Spanish: musealisacin; German: Museali-
is not absolutely essential. Thus we sierung; Italian: musealizazione; Portuguese:
can say when of the museum that it musealisao.
fulls a sensory documentary func-
In the accepted understanding of
tion (Deloche, 2007). (2) Margina-
the term, musealisation means the
lising reality, because the museum
placing in the museum, or more
species itself while separating
generally, transforming a centre of
itself (Lebensztein, 1981). Unlike a
political eld where it is possible to life, which may be a centre of human
theorise about the management of activity or a natural site, into a sort
the concrete lives of people in society of museum. The expression herita-
through the mediation of institutions gisation is undoubtedly a better des-
such as the State, that which is museal cription of this principle, which rests
on the other hand serves to theorise essentially on the idea of preservation
about the way in which an institution of an object or a place, but does not
creates, through separation and de- cover the entire museal process. The
contextualisation, in short through neologism museumication transla-
the putting into images, a space for tes the pejorative idea of the petri-
sensory display at the margin of all cation (or mummication) of a living
reality (Sartre). This is the essence area, which may result from such a
of a utopia, that is to say a comple- process and which may be found
tely imaginary space, certainly sym- in numerous critical reviews about
bolic but not necessarily intangible. the musealisation of the world.
This second point characterises what From a strictly museological point
one might call the utopian function of view, musealisation is the opera-
of museums, because in order to tion of trying to extract, physically
change the world, one must be able or conceptually, something from its
to imagine it otherwise, and thus to natural or cultural environment and
distance oneself from it, which is giving it a museal status, transfor-
why utopia as a ction is not necessa- ming it into a musealium or museum
rily a lack or a deciency, but rather object, that is to say, bringing it into
the imagining of a different world. the museal eld.
50
The process of musealisation does it is supposed to be evidence. This
not consist of taking an object to transfer, by the separation that has
place it within the physical connes been made from the original envi-
of the museum, as Zbynek Strnsk ronment, inevitably causes a loss of
explains. Through the change of information, which can be seen most
context and the process of selection clearly from illegal archaeological
and display, the status of the object digs where the context of the objects
changes. Whether it is a religious has been completely lost as they were
object, a useful object or one for unearthed. It is for this reason that
enjoyment, animal or vegetable, even musealisation, as a scientic pro-
something that may not be clearly cess, necessarily includes the essen-
conceived as an object, once inside tial museum activities: preservation
the museum it becomes the mate- (selection, acquisition, collection
rial and intangible evidence of man management, conservation), research
and his environment and a source of (including cataloguing) and com-
study and exhibition, thus acquiring munication (via exhibition, publi-
a specic cultural reality. cations, etc.) or, from another point
The recognition of this change in of view, the activities around the
nature caused Strnsk, in 1970, to selection, collection and display of
propose the term musealia to iden- what has become musealia. At most,
tify objects which had undergone the the work of musealisation gives an
process of musealisation and could image which is only a substitute for
thus claim the status of museum the reality from which these objects
objects. The term was translated into were chosen. This complex substi-
French as musalie (see Object). tute, or model of reality (built within
Musealisation begins with a phase the museum) comprises museality,
of separation (Malraux, 1951) or of that is to say a specic value which
suspension (Dotte, 1986): objects documents reality, but is in no way
or things (real things) are separated reality itself.
from their original context to be stu- Musealisation goes beyond the
died as documents representing the logic of collections alone and is part
reality to which they formerly belon- of the tradition founded on rational
ged. A museum object is no longer processes developed with the inven-
an object to be used or exchanged, tion of modern sciences. The object
but now delivers authentic evidence carrying the information or the
of reality. This removal (Desvalles, document-object, once musealised,
1998) from reality is already an initial is incorporated into the core of the
form of substitution. An object sepa- museums scientic activity just as
rated from the context from where this has developed since the Renais-
it was taken is already no more than sance. The purpose of this activity is
a substitute for the reality of which to explore reality by means of sen-

51
sory perception, experiment, and bition. In contrast to museology,
study of its constituent parts. This the word museography has long
scientic perspective conditions the been used to identify the practical
objective and repeated study of the activities associated with museums.
thing which has been conceptuali- The term is regularly used in the
zed into an object, beyond the aura French-speaking world, but rarely in
which obscures its meaning. Not the English-speaking one, where
contemplating, but seeing: the scien- museum practice is preferred. Many
tic museum not only displays beau- museologists from Central and Eas-
tiful objects, it invites the visitor to tern Europe have used the term
think about their meaning. The act applied museology, that is to say, the
of musealisation leads the museum practical application of techniques
away from being a temple to make it resulting from the study of museo-
part of a process which brings it clo- logy, a science undergoing develop-
ser to the laboratory. ment.
) CORRELATED: COLLECTING, COMMUNICATION,
DISPLAY, DOCUMENT-OBJECT, HOARDING, MUSEALIA,
2. In French the use of the term
museography identies the art (or
MUSEALITY, MUSEUM OBJECT, PRESERVATION, RESEARCH, the techniques) of exhibitions. For
RELIC, SELECTION, SEPARATION, SUSPENSION. some years the term expography
(exhibit design) has been proposed
for the techniques involved in exhi-
MUSEOGR APHY bitions, whether they be in a museum
(MUSEUM PR ACTICE) or in a non-museal space. Generally
speaking, what we call the museo-
n. (derived from Latin museographia) French
equivalent: musographie, Spanish: museo-
graphical programme covers deni-
grafa; German: Museographie; Italian: museo- tion of the contents of the exhibition
grafia; Portuguese: museografia. and its requirements, as well as the
functional links between the exhi-
The term museography rst appeared bition spaces and the other museum
in the 18th century (Neikel, 1727) and areas. This denition does not mean
is older than the word museology. It that museography (museum practice)
has three specic meanings: is dened only by that part of the
1. Currently museography is museum which is seen by the visi-
essentially dened as the practical tor. Museographers (museum desi-
or applied aspect of museology, that gners or exhibit designers), like other
is to say the techniques which have museum professionals, take into
been developed to full museal ope- account the scientic programme
rations, in particular with regard and collection management, and aim
to the planning and tting out of to display the objects selected by the
the museum premises, conserva- curator in a suitable manner. They
tion, restoration, security and exhi- must know methods of conserva-

52
tion and how to inventorize museum the message, and the preservation
objects. They create the scenario for of heritage. These aspects make
the contents and propose a form of museographers (or exhibition spe-
language which includes additional cialists) the intermediary between
media to aid understanding. They the collections curator, the architect
are concerned with the needs of and the public. Their role varies,
the public and employ the commu- however, depending whether or not
nication methods most suitable for the museum or the exhibition site
putting across the message of the has a curator to lead the project.
exhibition. Their role, often as the The further development of the role
head of a project, is to coordinate of some specialists within museums
all the scientic and technical spe- (architects, artists, exhibition cura-
cialists working within a museum: tors, etc.) has led to a constant ne-
organising them, sometimes clashing tuning of the museogaphers role as
with them and arbitrating. Other intermediary.
specic posts have been created to 3. Formerly and through its ety-
full these tasks: the management mology, museography referred to
of the art works or objects is left to the description of the contents of
the registrars, the head of security is a museum. Just as a bibliography
responsible for surveillance and the is one of the fundamental stages of
tasks carried out by this department, scientic research, museography
the conservator is a specialist in pre- was devised as a way to facilitate the
ventive conservation and in remedial search for documentary sources of
conservation measures, and even objects in order to develop their sys-
restoration. It is in this context, and tematic study. This meaning endured
in interrelation with the different throughout the 19th century and still
departments, that museographers continues today in some languages,
concern themselves with the exhibi- in particular Russian.
tion tasks. Museography is distinct
Z DERIVATIVES: MUSEOGRAPHER, MUSEOGRAPHIC.
from scenography (exhibition or
stage design), which is understood to ) CORRELATED: EXHIBITION DESIGN, EXHIBITION
PRACTICE, INTERIOR DESIGN, MUSEUM FUNCTIONS,
mean all the techniques required for
MUSEUM OPERATIONS, MUSEUM PRACTICE.
installing and tting out display spa-
ces, just as it is different from inte-
rior design. Certainly stage design
and museum interior design are a MUSEOLOGY
part of museography, which brings (MUSEUM STUDIES)
museums closer to other methods n. Equivalent in French: musologie; Spa-
of visualisation, but other elements nish: museologa; German: Museologie,
must also be taken into account such Museumswissenschaft, Museumskunde; Ita-
as the public, its understanding of lian: museologia; Portuguese: museologia.

53
Etymologically speaking museo- studies its history, its role in society,
logy is the study of the museum (or the specic forms of research and
museum studies), and not its practice, physical conservation, activities
which is museography. But the term and dissemination, organisation
museology and its derivative museo- and functioning, new or musealised
logical, accepted in its wider sense in architecture, sites that have been
the 1950s, now has ve clearly dis- received or chosen, its typology
tinct meanings. and its deontology (Rivire, 1981).
1. The rst and most commonly In some ways museology contrasts
accepted meaning applies the term with museography, which refers to
museology to anything relating to the practices attached to museo-
museums and generally listed, in logy. Anglo-Americans are generally
this dictionary, under the heading reluctant to accept the invention of
museal. Thus one might speak of new sciences and have favoured
the museological departments of a the expression museum studies, par-
library (the reserved section or the ticularly in Great Britain where the
numismatic cabinet), museological term museology is still rarely used
questions (relating to museums) and to date. Although the term has been
so on. This is often the meaning used increasingly frequently applied inter-
in Anglo-Saxon countries, which has nationally since the 1950s, along with
even spread from North America the increased interest in museums, it
to Latin-American countries. Thus, is still rarely used by people who live
where there is no specic recognised with museums on a daily basis, and
profession, such as in France where the use of the term remains limited
the general term curator (conserva- to people who observe the museum
teur) would be used, the term museo- from the outside. This use of museo-
logist applies to the entire museum logy, widely accepted by professio-
profession (for example in Qubec), nals, has gradually established itself
in particular to consultants given the in Romance countries from the 1960s,
task of drawing up a museum project replacing the term museography.
or creating and staging an exhibition. 3. From the 1960s in Central and
This use is not favoured here. Eastern Europe, museology gra-
2. The second meaning of the dually came to be considered as a
term is generally accepted in many genuine eld of scientic research
western university networks and is (albeit a developing science) and an
close to the etymological sense of independent discipline examining
the word: museum studies. The most reality. This view, which greatly
commonly used denition is that inuenced ICOFOM in the years
proposed by Georges Henri Rivire: 1980-1990, presents museology as
Museology: an applied science, the the study of a specic relationship
science of the museum. Museology between man and reality, a study in

54
which museums, a phenomenon set society (Gregorov, 1980). How-
in a specic time, are only one of the ever, the likening of museology to a
possible manifestations. Museology science even under development
is a self-differentiating, independent has slowly been abandoned in so
scientic discipline the subject of far as neither its object of study, nor
which is a specic attitude of man its methods, truly correspond to the
to reality expressed objectively in epistemological criteria of a specic
various museum forms throughout scientic approach.
history, an expression of and a 4. The new museology (la nouvelle
proportionate part of memory sys- musologie in French, where the
tems. Museology, by nature a social concept originated) widely inuen-
science, pertains to the sphere of ced museology in the 1980s, rst
mnemonic and documentary scien- gathering some French theoreticians
tic disciplines, and contributes to and then spreading internationally
the understanding of Man within from 1984. Referring to a few pio-
society (Strnsk, 1980). This parti- neers who had published innova-
cular approach, freely criticised (the tive texts since 1970, this current of
determination to impose museology thought emphasised the social role
as a science and to cover the whole of museums and its interdisciplinary
eld of heritage seemed pretentious character, along with its new styles of
to more than one), but it is nonethe- expression and communication. New
less fertile with regard to its implica- museology was particularly interes-
tions. Thus the object of museology ted in new types of museums, concei-
is not the museum, since this is a ved in contrast to the classical model
creation that is relatively recent in in which collections are the centre of
terms of the history of humanity. interest. These new museums are eco-
Taking this statement as a starting museums, social museums, scientic
point, the concept of a specic rela- and cultural centres, and generally
tion of man to reality, sometimes speaking, most of the new propo-
referred to as museality (Waidacher, sals aimed at using the local heritage
1996), was gradually dened. Thus to promote local development. In
following in the wake of the Brno English museum literature the term
school which prevailed at the time New Museology appeared at the end
one could dene museology as A of the 1980s (Virgo, 1989) and is a
science studying the specic relation critical discourse on the social and
of Man to reality, consisting of the political role of museums lending
purposeful and systematic collecting a certain confusion to the spread of
and conservation of selected inani- the French term, which is less known
mate, material, mobile, and mainly to the English-speaking public.
three-dimensional objects documen- 5. According to a fth meaning
ting the development of nature and of the term, which we favour here
55
because it includes all the others, which examine museology from time
museology covers a much wider eld to time.
comprising all the efforts at theori- With this last view in mind, Ber-
sation and critical thinking about nard Deloche proposed dening
the museal eld. In other words, museology as museal philosophy.
the common denominator of this Museology is the philosophy of the
eld could be dened as a specic museal eld which has two tasks:
relation between man and reality, (1) it serves as metatheory for the
which is expressed by documenting science of intuitive concrete docu-
that which is real and can be grasped mentation, (2) it provides regulating
through direct sensory contact. This ethics for all institutions responsible
denition does not reject a priori any for managing the intuitive concrete
form of museum, including the oldest documentary function (Deloche,
(Quiccheberg) and the most recent 2001).
(cyber museums), because it tends to Z DERIVATIVES: MUSEOLOGICAL, MUSEOLOGIST.
concern itself with a domain which
is freely open to all experiments in ) CORRELATED: MUSEAL, MUSEALIA MUSEALITY,
MUSEALISATION, MUSEALIZE, MUSEOGRAPHY,
the museal eld. Nor is it limited to MUSEUM, MUSEUM OBJECT, NEW MUSEOLOGY,
people who call themselves museo- REALITY.
logists. We should note that if some
protagonists have made museology
their eld of choice, to the point of MUSEUM
presenting themselves as museolo-
gists, others tied to their professio- n. (from the Greek mouseion, temple of the
muses). Equivalent in French: muse; Spa-
nal branch who only approach the
nish: museo; German: Museum; Italian: museo;
museal sphere on occasion prefer to Portuguese: museu.
keep a certain distance from museo-
logists, even though they have, or The term museum may mean either
have had, a fundamental inuence the institution or the establishment
in the development of this eld of or the place generally designed to
study (Bourdieu, Baudrillard, Dago- select, study and display the material
gnet, Debray, Foucault, Haskell, and intangible evidence of man and
McLuhan, Nora or Pomian). The his environment. The form and the
guidelines in a map of the museal functions of museums have varied
eld can be traced in two different considerably over the centuries.
directions: either with reference to Their contents have diversied, as
the main functions inherent to the have their mission, their way of ope-
eld (documentation, collecting, rating and their management.
display and safeguarding, research, 1. Most countries have established
communication), or by considering denitions of museum through
the different branches of knowledge legislative texts or national organi-

56
sations. The professional de nition tage. English has become the wor-
of museum most widely recognized king language most widely used in
today is still that given in 2007 in the council meetings, and ICOM, like
Statutes of the International Council most international organisations,
of Museums (ICOM): A museum now operates in English too; it seems
is a non-prot, permanent institu- that the work to draft a new deni-
tion in the service of society and its tion was based on this English trans-
development, open to the public, lation. The structure of the French
which acquires, conserves, resear- denition of 1974 emphasised
ches, communicates and exhibits research, introduced as the driving
the tangible and intangible heritage force of the institution: Le muse est
of humanity and its environment for une institution permanente, sans but
the purposes of education, study and lucratif, au service de la socit et de
enjoyment. This denition replaces son dveloppement, ouverte au public
that used as the term of reference et qui fait des recherches concernant
for over 30 years: A museum is a les tmoins matriels de lhomme
non-prot making, permanent ins- et de son environnement, acquiert
titution in the service of the society ceux-l, les conserve, les communique
and its development, and open to the et notamment les expose des ns
public, which acquires, conserves, dtudes, dducation et de dlecta-
researches, communicates, and exhi- tion. (ICOM Statutes, 1974). The
bits, for purposes of study, education literal translation, but not the ofcial
and enjoyment, material evidence of one, reads: A museum is a perma-
man and his environment (ICOM nent, non-prot institution, in the
Statutes, 1974). service of the society and its deve-
The difference between these two lopment, open to the public, which
denitions, which is at rst sight does research regarding the material
barely signicant a reference to evidence of man and his environ-
the intangible heritage added and ment, In 2007 the principle of
a few changes in structure never- research (modied in French by the
theless attests on the one hand to the word tudier - to study) was relega-
preponderance of Anglo-American ted to a list of the general functions
logic within ICOM, and on the other of museums, as in the 1974 English
to a diminution of the role given to version.
research within the institution. Ini- 2. For many museologists, and in
tially the 1974 denition, written in particular those who claim to adhere
French as the lead language, was a to the concept of museology taught
fairly free translation into English to in the years 1960-1990 by the Czech
better reect the Anglo-American school (Brno and the International
logic about museum functions one Summer School of Museology), the
of which is the transmission of heri- museum is only one means among

57
many that attest to a specic rela- pret absent facts (Schrer, 2007) or,
tionship between Man and reality, in a way that seems tautological at
a relationship which is dened by rst, as the place where the museali-
purposeful and systematic collec- sation takes place. In an even wider
ting and conservation of selected ina- sense, the museum can be unders-
nimate, material, mobile, and mainly tood as a place of memory (Nora,
three-dimensional objects docu- 1984; Pinna, 2003), a phenomenon
menting the development of nature (Scheiner, 2007), covering institu-
and society (Gregorov, 1980). tions, different places or territories,
Before the museum was de ned as experiences, and even intangible
such in the 18th century, according spaces.
to a concept borrowed from Greek 3. From this perspective which
antiquity and its revival during the goes beyond the limited nature of
western Renaissance, every civilisa- the traditional museum, it is de ned
tion had a number of places, institu- as a tool devised by man with the
tions and establishments that were purpose of archiving, understan-
more or less similar to those that we ding, and transmitting. One could,
group under the same word today. like Judith Spielbauer (1987), say
In this regard the ICOM de nition that museums are an instrument
is considered to be clearly marked to foster an individuals percep-
by its time and its western context, tion of the interdependence of the
but also too prescriptive, since its social, aesthetic and natural worlds
purpose is essentially corporatist. in which he lives by providing infor-
A scientic denition of museum mation and experience and fostering
should, in this sense, free itself self-knowledge within this wider
from certain elements contributed context. Museums can also be a
by ICOM, such as the not-for-prot specic function which may or may
aspect of a museum: a prot-making not take on the features of an ins-
museum (such as the Muse Grvin titution, the objective of which is
in Paris) is still a museum, even if it to ensure, through a sensory expe-
is not recognised by ICOM. We can rience, the storage and transmission
thus more broadly and more objecti- of culture understood as the entire
vely de ne museum as a permanent body of acquisitions that make a
museological institution, which pre- man out of a being who is gene-
serves collections of physical docu- tically human (Deloche, 2007).
ments and generates knowledge These denitions cover museums
about them (Van Mensch, 1992). which are incorrectly referred to as
For his part Schrer denes museum virtual museums (in particular those
as a place where things and related that are on paper, on CD-ROM or
values are preserved studied and on the Web) as well as more tradi-
communicated, as signs that inter- tional institutional museums, inclu-

58
ding even the museums of antiquity, puters and the digital world the
which were more schools of philoso- concept of cyber museum, often
phy than collections in the accepted incorrectly called virtual, gradually
sense of the term. became accepted; a notion generally
4. This last use of the term dened as a logically related collec-
museum brings us to the principles tion of digital objects composed in a
of the ecomuseum in its original variety of media which, through its
conception, that is to say a museal connectivity and its multi-accessible
institution which, for the develo- nature, lends itself to transcending
pment of a community, combines traditional methods of communica-
conservation, display and explana- ting and interacting with visitors..;
tion of the cultural and natural heri- it has no real place or space; its
tage held by this same community; objects and the related information
the ecomuseum represents a living can be disseminated all over the
and working environment on a given world (Schweibenz, 1998). This
territory, and the research associated denition, probably derived from
with it. The ecomuseum [] on a the relatively recent notion of vir-
given territory, expresses the rela- tual computer memory, appears to
tionship between man and nature
be something of a misinterpretation.
through time and space on this ter-
We must remember that virtual is
ritory. It is composed of property of
not the opposite of real, as we tend
recognised scientic and cultural
to believe too readily, but rather the
interest which is representative of
the community it serves: non-built opposite of actual in its original
immovable property, natural wild sense of now existing. An egg is a
spaces, natural spaces occupied by virtual chicken; it is programmed
man; built immovable property; to become a chicken and should
movable property; fungible goods. become one if nothing gets in the
It includes an administrative centre, way of its development. In this sense
headquarters of the major structures: the virtual museum can be seen as all
reception, research, conservation, the museums conceivable, or all the
display, cultural action, administra- conceivable solutions applied to the
tion, in particular one or more eld problems answered by traditional
laboratories, conservation bodies, museums. Thus the virtual museum
meeting halls, socio-cultural works- can be dened as a concept which
hops, accommodation etc.; trails and globally identies the problem areas
observation points for exploring the of the museal eld, that is to say the
territory; different architectural, effects of the process of decontex-
archaeological and geological ele- tualisation/recontextualisation; a
mentsduly indicated and explai- collection of substitutes can be a
ned (Rivire, 1978). virtual museum just as much as a
5. With the development of com- computerised data base; it is the

59
museum in its exterior theatre of ope- Z DERIVATIVES: VIRTUAL MUSEUM.
rations (Deloche, 2001). The virtual
museum is the package of solutions ) CORRELATED: CYBER MUSEUM, MUSEAL,
MUSEALIA, MUSEALISATION, MUSEALISE, MUSEOGRAPHER,
that may be applied to museum pro- MUSEOGRAPHY, MUSEOLOGICAL, MUSEOLOGIST,
blems, and naturally includes the MUSEOLOGY, MUSEUMIFICATION (PEJORATIVE), MUSEUM
cyber museum, but is not limited STUDIES, NEW MUSEOLOGY, EXHIBITION, INSTITUTION,
to it. PRIVATE COLLECTIONS, REALITY.

60
O
OBJECT [MUSEUM A museum object is something
OBJECT] OR MUSEALIA which is musealised; a thing can be
dened as any kind of reality in gene-
n. (from the Latin objectum, past partici-
ple objectare, to throw against) Equivalent
ral. The expression museum object
in French: objet; Spanish: objeto; German: could almost be a pleonasm in so far
Objekt, Gegenstand; Italian: oggetto; Portu- as the museum is not only the place
guese: objecto, (Brazilian: objeto) which shelters objects, but also a
place with the principal mission of
The term museum object is some-
transforming things into objects.
times replaced by the neologism
musealia, modelled on the Latin neu- 1. The object is not in any case
ter noun musealium with musealia in raw, reality or simply a given item
the plural. The equivalent in French: which it would be sufcient to col-
musalie (rarely used), musealia; Spa- lect, for example, to be part of a
nish: musealia; German: Musealie, museums collection, as one would
Museumsobjekt; Italian: musealia; collect seashells on the shore. It is an
Portuguese: musealia. ontological status which, in given cir-
In the simplest philosophical cumstances, a particular thing will
sense of the word an object is not in assume, on the understanding that
itself a form of reality, but a product, the thing would not be considered
a result, or an equivalence. In other an object in other circumstances.
words it means that which is pla- The difference between the thing
ced, or thrown forward (ob-jectum, and the object lies in the fact that the
Gegen-stand) by a subject, who treats thing has become a concrete part of
it as different from himself, even if he life and that the relationship we have
considers himself as an object. This with it is a relationship of affection
distinction between the subject and or symbiosis. This is revealed by the
the object developed relatively late animism of societies often reputed
and is a feature of Western culture. to be primitive: it is a relationship
In this way the object is different of usability, as is the case of the tool
from the thing, which is related to adapted to the shape of the hand.
the subject as a continuation or an By contrast, an object is always that
implement (for example, a tool as a which the subject sets down in front
continuation of the hand is a thing of himself, and separate from him; it
and not an object). is thus what is facing and different.
61
In this sense the object is abstract tance, whereas the priority in scien-
and dead, closed on itself, as eviden- tic operations is the requirement
ced by that series of objects which to account for things in a universally
is a collection (Baudrillard, 1968). intelligible context.
This status of the object is conside- 3. Naturalists and ethnologists,
red today to be a purely western pro- as well as museologists, generally
duct (Choay, 1968; Van Lier, 1969; select things which they already call
Adotevi, 1971), in so far as it was the objects, according to their poten-
West which broke with the tribal tial as evidence, that is the quality
way of life and thought about the gap of information (markers) that they
between subjects and objects for the can provide to reect the ecosys-
rst time (Descartes, Kant, and later tems or cultures the traces of which
McLuhan, 1969). they wish to preserve. Musealia
2. Through their work of acqui- (museum objects) are authentic
sition, research, preservation and movable objects which, as irrefutable
communication, museums can be evidence, show the development of
presented as one of the major autho- nature and society (Schreiner 1985).
rities in the production of objects. The wealth of information they
In this case, the museum object provide has led ethnologists such
musealium or musealia does not as Jean Gabus (1965) or Georges
have any intrinsic reality, even if the Henri Rivire (1989) to attribute to
museum is not the only instrument them the name witness-object, which
to produce objects. In fact other they retain when they are displayed.
approaches are objectivising as is Georges Henri Rivire even used the
the case in particular for scienti- expression symbol-object to describe
c processes to establish reference certain witness objects heavy with
standards (c.f., measurement scales) content which might claim to sum-
which are completely independent of marise a whole culture or period.
the subject and which consequently The result of systematically making
nd it difcult to treat that which is things into objects is that they can
living as such (Bergson) because it be studied much better than if they
tends to turn it into an object, whe- were still in their original context
rein lies the difculty of physiology (ethnographic eld, private collection
compared to anatomy. The museal or gallery), but it can also become
object is made to be seen, with its fetishist: a ritual mask, a ceremonial
whole mass of implicit connotations, costume, a prayer tool etc. quickly
because we can display it in order change their status when they enter
to stir emotions, to entertain, or to the museum. We are no longer in
teach. This action of displaying is so the real world, but in the imaginary
essential that it is what turns a thing world of the museum. For example,
into an object by creating this dis- the visitor is not allowed to sit on

62
a chair in a museum of decorative ges or representations of something
arts, which supposes an established else. (Cameron, 1968). For various
distinction between the functional reasons (sentimental, aesthetic, etc.)
chair and the chair-object. Their we have an intuitive relationship with
function has been removed and they that which is displayed. The noun
have been decontextualised, which exhibit refers to a real thing which is
means that from now on they will no displayed, but also to anything dis-
longer serve their original purpose playable (a sound, photographic or
but have entered a symbolic order lm document, a hologram, a repro-
which gives them new meaning, lea- duction, a model, an installation or
ding Krzysztof Pomian to call such a conceptual model) (see Exhibition).
objects semiophores (carriers of 5. A certain tension exists between
signicance) and to attribute a new the real thing and its substitute.
value to them which is rst of all Regarding this we must note that for
purely a museal value but which can some people the semiophore object
become an economic value. They is only a carrier of meaning when
thus become sacred (consecrated) it is presented for itself, and not
evidence of culture. through a substitute. Wide as it may
4. Exhibitions reect these choi- seem, this purely reist concept does
ces. For semiologists like Jean Daval- not take account of either the ori-
lon Musealia can be considered less gins of museums in the Renaissance
as things (from the point of view of (see Museum) or the development
their physical reality) than as language and diversity reached by museology
beings (they are dened, recognized during the 19th century. Nor does
as worthy of being safeguarded and it allow us to take into account the
displayed) and as supports of social work of a number of museums whose
practices (they are collected, cata- activities are essentially on other
logued, displayed etc.) (Davallon, support systems such as the inter-
1992). Objects can thus be used net or duplicated media, or more
as signs, just like words in speech, generally all the museums made
when they are used in an exhibition. of substitutes such as museums of
But objects are not just signs, since casts (gypsotheques), collections of
by their presence alone they can be models, collections of wax repro-
directly perceived by our senses. ductions (ceratheques), or science
For this reason the term real thing centres which display mostly models.
is often used to indicate a museum Since these objects were considered
object exhibited because of its power as elements of a language, they can
of authentic presence, that is The be used to create lecture exhibitions,
real things of the museum language but they are not always adequate to
are those things which we present as sustain the entire lecture. We must
what they are, not as models or ima- therefore envisage other elements

63
of a language of substitution. When the point of view of museal ethics.
the exhibit replaces a real thing or Moreover, from the wider perspec-
authentic object, through its func- tive mentioned above, any object dis-
tion or nature, the replacement is played in a museum context must be
called a substitute. It may be a pho- considered as a substitute for the rea-
tograph, a drawing or a model of lity it represents because as a musea-
the real thing. The substitute would lised thing, the museum object is a
thus be said to be in conict with the substitute for this thing (Deloche,
authentic object, even though it is 2001).
not exactly the same as a copy of the 6. In the museological context,
original (such as the casts of a sculp- especially in the elds of archaeology
ture or copy of a painting), in so far and ethnology, specialists are accus-
as substitutes can be created directly tomed to invest the object with the
from an idea or a process and not just meaning they have developed from
by producing a perfect copy. Accor- their own research. But this raises
ding to the form of the original and several problems. First of all, the
the use that should be made of it, objects change their meaning in their
the substitute can be two or three- original environment at the whim of
dimensional. The idea of authenti- each generation. Next, each visitor is
city, particularly important in ne free to interpret them according to
arts museums (masterpieces, copies his or her own culture. The result is
and fakes), inuences the majority the relativism summarised by Jacques
of the questions attached to the sta- Hainard in 1984 in a sentence which
tus and value of museum objects. has become famous: The object
We must nonetheless note that there
is not the truth of anything. Firstly
are museums which have collections
polyfunctional, then polysemic, it
made solely of substitutes, and that,
takes on meaning only when placed
generally speaking, the policy of
in context. (Hainard, 1984)
substitutes (copies, plaster casts or
wax, models or digital images) opens
the eld of museum operations very ) CORRELATED: ARTEFACT, AUTHENTICITY,
COLLECTION, COPY, EXHIBIT, FETISH-OBJECT, REAL THING,
wide and leads us to question all the REPLICA, REPRODUCTION, SPECIMEN, SUBSTITUTE, THING,
present values of the museum from TRANSITORY OBJECT, WITNESS-OBJECT, WORK OF ART.

64
P
PRESERVATION of collections structures the mission
of museums and their development.
n Equivalent French: prservation; Spanish: Preservation is one axis of museal
preservacin; German: Bewahrung, Erhal-
tung; Italian: preservazione; Portuguese:
action, the other being transmission
preservao. to the public.
1. The acquisition policy is, in most
To preserve means to protect a thing cases, a fundamental part of the way
or a group of things from different any museum operates. Acquisition,
hazards such as destruction, deterio- within the museum, brings together
ration, separation or even theft; this all the means by which a museum
protection is ensured by gathering takes possession of the material and
the collection in one place, inventori- intangible heritage of humanity:
sing it, sheltering it, making it secure collecting, archaeological digs, gifts
and repairing it. and legacy, exchange, purchase, and
In museology, preservation covers sometimes methods reminiscent of
all the operations involved when an pillage and abduction (combated by
object enters a museum, that is to ICOM and UNESCO Recommen-
say all the operations of acquisition, dation of 1956 and Convention of
entering in the inventory, recording 1970). The management of collections
in the catalogue, placing in storage, and the overseeing of collections com-
conservation, and if necessary resto- prise all the operations connected
ration. The preservation of heritage with the administrative handling of
generally leads to a policy which museum objects, that is to say their
starts with the establishment of a pro- recording in the museum catalogue or
cedure and criteria for acquisition of registration in the museum inventory
the material and intangible heritage in order to certify their museal sta-
of humanity and its environment, tus which, in some countries, gives
and continues with the management them a specic legal status, since the
of those things which have become items entered in the inventory, espe-
museum objects, and nally with cially in publicly owned museums,
their conservation. In this sense the are inalienable and imprescriptible.
concept of preservation represents In some countries such as the United
that which is fundamentally at stake States, museums may exceptionally
in museums, because the building up deaccession objects by transfer to
65
another museal institution, destruc- aimed at facilitating its apprecia-
tion or sale. Storage and classication tion, understanding and use. These
are also part of collection manage- actions are only carried out when the
ment, along with the supervision of item has lost part of its signicance
all movements of objects within and or function through past alteration
outside the museum. Finally, the or deterioration. They are based on
objective of conservation is to use all respect for the original material.
the means necessary to guarantee Most often such actions modify the
the condition of an object against appearance of the item (ICOM-CC,
any kind of alteration in order to 2008). To preserve the integrity of
bequeath it to future generations. the items as far as possible, restorers
In the broadest sense these actions choose interventions which are rever-
include overall security (protection sible and can be easily identied.
against theft and vandalism, re and 2. In practice, the concept of
oods, earthquakes or riots), general conservation is often preferred to
measures known as preventive conser- that of preservation. For many
vation, or all measures and actions museum professionals, conservation,
aimed at avoiding and minimizing which addresses both the action
future deterioration or loss. They are and the intention to protect cultu-
carried out within the context or on ral property, whether material or
the surroundings of an item, but more intangible, constitutes a museums
often a group of items, whatever their core mission. This explains the use
age and condition. These measures in French of the word conservateurs
and actions are indirect they do (in English curators, in the UK kee-
not interfere with the materials and pers) which appeared at the time of
structures of the items. They do not the French Revolution. For a long
modify their appearance (ICOM- time (throughout the 19th century at
CC, 2008). Additionally, remedial least) this word seems to have best
conservation is all actions directly described the function of a museum.
applied to an item or a group of items Moreover the current denition of
aimed at arresting current damaging museum by ICOM (2007) does not
processes or reinforcing their struc- use the term preservation to cover
ture. These actions are only carried the concepts of acquisition and
out when the items are in such a conservation. From this perspective,
fragile condition or deteriorating at the notion of conservation should
such a rate that they could be lost in probably be envisaged in a much
a relatively short time. These actions wider sense, to include questions of
sometimes modify the appearance of inventories and storage. Nonetheless,
the items (ICOM-CC, 2008). Res- this concept collides with a different
toration covers all actions directly reality, which is that conservation
applied to a single and stable item (for example, in the ICOM Conser-

66
vation Committee) is much more REALITY; COMMUNITY; PREVENTIVE CONSERVATION,
clearly connected with the work of REMEDIAL CONSERVATION, SAFEGUARD; COLLECTION
MANAGEMENT, COLLECTION OVERSIGHT, COLLECTION
conservation and restoration, as des-
MANAGER, CURATOR, CONSERVATOR, INVENTORY,
cribed above, than with the work of
RESTORER; DEACCESSION, RESTITUTION.
management or overseeing of the
collections. New professional elds
have evolved, in particular collection PROFESSION
archivists and registrars. The notion
of preservation takes account of all n. Equivalent in French: profession; Spanish:
profesin; German: Beruf; Italian: profes-
these activities.
sione; Portuguese: profisso.
3. The concept of preservation,
in addition, tends to objectivise Profession is dened rst of all in a
the inevitable tensions which exist socially dened setting, and not by
between each of these functions (not default. Profession does not consti-
to mention the tensions between tute a theoretical eld: a museologist
preservation and communication or can call himself an art historian or a
research), which have often been the biologist by profession, but he can
target of much criticism: The idea also be considered and socially
of conservation of the heritage takes accepted as a professional museolo-
us back to the anal drives of all capi- gist. For a profession to exist, moreo-
talist societies (Baudrillard, 1968; ver, it must dene itself as such, and
Deloche, 1985, 1989). A number of also be recognised as such by others,
acquisition policies, for example, which is not always the case in the
include deaccession policies at the museum world. There is not one
same time (Neves, 2005). The ques- profession, but several museal pro-
tion of the restorers choices and, fessions (Dub, 1994), that is to say
generally speaking, the choices to a range of activities attached to the
be made with regard to conservation museum, paid or unpaid, by which
operations (what to keep and what to one can identify a person (in particu-
discard?) are, along with deaccession, lar for his civil status) and place him
some of the most controversial issues in a social category.
in museum management. Finally, If we refer to the concept of museo-
museums are increasingly acquiring logy as presented here, most museum
and preserving intangible heritage, employees are far from having recei-
which presents new problems and ved the professional training that
forces them to nd conservation their title would imply, and very few
techniques which can be adapted for can claim to be museologists simply
these new types of heritage. because they work in a museum.
There are, however, many positions
) CORRELATED: ACQUISITION, DOCUMENT, ITEMS,
MONUMENT, GOODS, PROPERTY, SEMIOPHORE, THINGS, which require a specic background.
RELIC (HOLY), WORK; HERITAGE, INTANGIBLE, MATERIAL; ICTOP (The ICOM International
67
Committee for the Training of Per- their main eld of activity - cannot
sonnel) has listed twenty of them call themselves either museologists,
(Ruge, 2008). or museographers (museum practi-
1. Many employees, often the tioners), even if in practice some of
majority of people working in the them easily combine these different
institution, follow a career path aspects of museal work. In France,
which has only a relatively super- unlike other European countries, the
cial relationship with the very body of curators is generally recrui-
principle of the museum whereas ted by competition and benets from
to the wider public, they personify a specic training school (Institut
museums. This is the case with national du Patrimoine/the National
security ofcers or guards, the staff Heritage Institute).
responsible for the surveillance of 2. The term museologist can be
exhibition areas in the museum, applied to researchers studying the
who are the main contacts with the specic relationship between man
public, like the receptionists. The and reality, characterised as the
specicity of museum surveillance documentation of the real by direct
(precise measures for security and for sensory perception. Their eld of
evacuating the public and the collec- activity essentially concerns theory
tions etc.) has gradually throughout and critical thinking in the museal
the 19th century imposed specic eld, so they may work elsewhere
recruitment categories, in particular than in a museum, for example in
that of a body which is separate from a university or in other research
the rest of the administrative staff. centres. The term is also applied by
At the same time it was the gure of extension to any person working for
the curator who appeared as the rst a museum and holding the function
specically museal profession. For a of project leader or exhibition pro-
long time the curator was in charge grammer. So museologists differ
of all tasks directly relating to the from curators, and also from museo-
objects in the collection, that is their graphers, who are responsible for the
preservation, research and commu- design and general organisation of
nication (PRC model, Reinwardt the museum and its security, conser-
Academie). The curators training is vation and restoration facilities along
rstly associated with the study of with the exhibition galleries, whether
the collections (art history, natural permanent or temporary. Museogra-
sciences, ethnology etc.) even if, for phers, with their specic technical
several years now, it has been backed skills, have an expert vision of all the
up by a more museological training ways in which a museum operates
such as that given by a number of preservation, research and commu-
universities. Many curators who have nication and by drawing up the
specialised in the study of the collec- appropriate specications they can
tions which remains uncontested as manage the information connected

68
with the overall work of the museum, produces the scientic project for the
from preventive conservation to the exhibition and coordinates the entire
information disseminated to diffe- project.
rent publics. The museographer dif- 3. Assisted by the development of
fers from the exhibit designer; a term the museal eld, a number of pro-
proposed to indicate the person with fessions have gradually emerged and
all the skills required to create exhi- to become independent, and also to
bitions, whether these are situated in conrm their importance and their
a museum or in a non-museal setting, will to be a part of the museums
and from the exhibition designer in destinies. This phenomenon can
that the latter, who uses techniques to essentially be observed in the elds
set the scene for the exhibition, may of preservation and communication.
also nd himself skilled at setting up In preservation, it was rst of all the
an exhibition (see Museography). The conservator, as a professional with
professions of exhibit designer and scientic competences and above
exhibition designer have long been all the techniques required for the
related to that of decorator, which physical treatment of the collection
refers to decoration of the spaces. objects (restoration, preventive and
But the work of interior decoration remedial conservation), who requi-
in functional areas pertaining to the red highly specialised training (by
normal activities of interior decora- types of material and techniques),
competences which the curator does
tion differs from the tasks that are
not have. Similarly the tasks imposed
required for exhibitions, which are in
by the inventory, relating to manage-
the eld of exhibit design. In exhibi-
ment of the reserves, and also to the
tions, their work tends more towards
moving of items, favoured the rela-
tting out the space using exhibits as tively recent creation of the post of
elements of decoration, rather than registrar, who is responsible for the
starting from the exhibits to be dis- movement of objects, insurance mat-
played and given meaning within ters, management of the reserves and
the space. Many exhibit designers sometimes also the preparation and
or exhibition designers call themsel- mounting of an exhibition (at which
ves rst of all architects of interior point the registrar becomes the exhi-
design, which does not mean that any bition curator).
architect of interior design can claim 4. Regarding communication, the
the status of exhibit designer or exhi- staff attached to the educational
bition designer, or of museographer. department, along with all the staff
In this context the exhibition and who work in public relations, have
display curator (a role often played by beneted from the emergence of
the curator, but sometimes by a per- a number of specic professions.
son from outside the museum) takes Undoubtedly one of the oldest of
on its full meaning, since he or she these is that of guide-interpreter,
69
guide-lecturer or lecturer, who distinguishing it from other organi-
accompanies visitors (most often in sations, for prot or not. The same
groups) through the exhibition galle- is true for many other administra-
ries, giving them information about tive tasks such as logistics, security,
the exhibition and the objects on dis- information technology, marketing,
play, essentially following the princi- and media relations, which are all
ple of guided visits. This rst type of growing in importance. Museum
accompaniment has been joined by directors (who also have associations,
the function of animator, the person particularly in the United States)
in charge of workshops or other expe- have proles that cover one or more
riences coming under the museums of the above prociencies. They are
communication methods, and then symbols of authority in the museum,
that of cultural projects coordinator and their prole (manager or cura-
who is the intermediary between the tor, for example) is often presented
collections and the public and whose as indicative of the development and
aim is more to interpret the collec- action strategy that the museum will
tions and to encourage the public to adopt.
take interest in them than to systema-
tically teach the public according to a ) CORRELATED: ANIMATOR, COMMUNICATOR,
CONSERVATION, CURATOR, CULTURAL PROJECTS
pre-established content. Increasingly COORDINATOR, EDUCATOR, EVALUATOR, EXHIBIT
the web master plays a fundamental PRACTICE, EXHIBIT STUDIES, EXHIBITION DESIGNER,
role in the museums communication GUARD, GUIDE, GUIDE-INTERPRETER, INTERIOR DESIGNER,
and mediation tasks. LECTURER, MANAGEMENT, MEDIATOR, MUSEOGRAPHY,
MUSEOLOGIST, MUSEOLOGY, MUSEUM PRACTICE,
5. Other cross-cutting or ancillary
MUSEUM STUDIES, PROJECT MANAGER, RESEARCHER,
occupations have been added to these RESTORER, SECURITY OFFICER, STAGE DESIGNER,
professions. Among these are the TECHNICIAN, VOLUNTEER.
head or project manager (who may be
a scientist, or a museographer) who
is responsible for all the methods for PUBLIC
implementing the museal activities
n., adj. (Latin publicus, populus: people or
and who groups around him spe- population) Equivalent in French: public,
cialists in the elds of preservation, audience; Spanish: pblico; German:
research, and communication in Publikum Besucher; Italian: pubblico; Portu-
order to carry out specic projects, guese: pblico.
such as a temporary exhibition, a
new gallery, an open reserve, etc. The term has two accepted mea-
6. In more general terms it is very nings, according to whether it is used
likely that administrators or museum as an adjective or a noun.
managers, who already have their own 1. The adjective public as in
committee in ICOM, will emphasise public museum explains the legal
the specic skills of their function by relationship between the museum

70
and the people of the area in which the museum, generally organised as a
it is located. The public museum is private enterprise with the status of
essentially the property of the people; a non-prot organisation, and that
it is nanced and administered by the the activities of the board of trustees
people through its representatives are aimed at a certain public. This
and by delegation, through its mana- museums main point of reference,
gement. This system is most strongly particularly in the United States, is
present in Latin countries: the public more an idea of community than that
museum is essentially nanced by of public, the term community often
taxes, and its collections are part being taken in a very wide sense (see
of the logic of public ownership (in Society).
principle they cannot rightfully be This principle of public interest
removed or deaccessioned, nor can causes museums worldwide to see
their status be changed unless a strict their activities carried out, if not
procedure is followed). The working under the aegis of public authori-
rules are generally those of public ties, then at least with reference to
services, especially the principle of them, and most often to be partly
continuity (the service is required to run by these authorities, which in
operate continuously and regularly, turn obliges museums to respect
with no interruptions other than a number of rules which inuence
those provided for in the regula- their administration and a number
tions), the principle of mutability (the of ethical principles. In this context
service must adapt to changes in the the question of the private museum
needs of the general public interest, and that of the museum managed as
and there should be no legal obstacle a commercial enterprise allows the
to changes to be made to this end), assumption that the different princi-
the principle of equality (to insure ples connected with state ownership
that each citizen is treated equally). and the nature of public authori-
Finally the principle of transparency ties mentioned above would not be
(communication of documents about encountered. It is from this pers-
the service to anyone who requests pective that the ICOM denition of
them, and the reasons for certain museum presupposes that it is a non-
decisions) signies that the museal prot organisation, and that many of
establishment is open to all and the articles of its code of ethics have
belongs to all; it is at the service of been drafted according to its public
society and its development. nature.
In Anglo-American law the pre- 2. As a noun the word public refers
vailing notion is less that of public to the museum users (the museum
service than that of public trust, public), but also, by extension from
principles which demand that the its actual user public, to the whole
trustees have a strict commitment to of the population addressed by the
71
establishment. The notion of public the museum to all the users, as we
is central to almost all of the current can see by the new words used over
denitions of museum: institution time: people, public at large, non-
at the service of society and its public, distant public, disabled or
development, open to the public frail; users, visitors, observers, spec-
(ICOM, 2007). It is also a collec- tators, consumers, audience, etc. The
tion the conservation and dis- development of the professional eld
play of which are of public interest of exhibition critics, many of whom
and intended for public knowledge, present themselves as public advo-
education and enjoyment (Law on cates or for the voice of the public,
the museums of France, 2002), or is evidence of this current tendency
again an institution which owns to reinforce the idea that the public is
and uses material objects, preserves at the core of general museum opera-
them and exhibits them to the public tions. Essentially since the end of the
according to regular opening hours 1980s we talk of a real turn towards
(American Association of Museums, the public in museal action, to show
Accreditation Program, 1973); the the growing importance of museum
denition published in 1998 by the visits and take account of the needs
Museums Association (UK) replaced and expectations of visitors (which
the adjective public with the noun corresponds to what we also call
people. the commercial trend of museums,
The very notion of public closely even if the two do not necessarily go
associates the museum activities with together).
its users, even those who are intended 3. By extension, in the models of
to benet from it but do not use its ser- community museums and ecomu-
vices. By users we mean of course the seums, the public has been extended
visitors the public at large about to cover the whole of the population
whom we think rst of all, forgetting in the areas in which they are set.
that they have not always played the The population is the basis of the
central role that the museum reco- museum and in the case of the eco-
gnises today, because there are many museum, it becomes the main player
specic publics. Museums have ope- and no longer the target of the esta-
ned up to everyone only gradually, blishment (see Society).
being rst of all a place for artistic Z DERIVATIVES: DISABLED PUBLIC, MINORITY PUBLIC,
training and for the territory of the NON-PUBLIC, PUBLIC AT LARGE, PUBLIC RELATIONS,
learned and scholarly. This opening, PUBLICITY, TARGET PUBLIC.
which has led museum staff to take
an increasing interest in all its visi- ) CORRELATED: AUDIENCE, ASSESSMENTS,
COMMUNITY, CUSTOMERS, ECOMUSEUM, EVALUATION,
tors and also in the population that EVALUATORS, LOYALTY BUILDING, PEOPLE, POPULATION,
does not visit museums, has fostered PRIVATE, SOCIETY, SPECTATORS, ENQUIRIES, TOURISTS,
the growth of ways of interpreting USERS, VISITING, VISITORS.

72
R
RESEARCH the museum acquires, conserves,
researches, communicates and exhi-
n. Equivalent in French: recherche; Spanish: bits the tangible and intangible heri-
investigacin; German: Forschung; Italian:
ricerca; Portuguese: pesquisa, investigao.
tage of humanity (ICOM, 2007).
This denition, shorter than the
Research consists of exploring pre- previous one (and with the term fait
dened elds with the purpose of des recherches [does research] in
advancing the knowledge of these French replaced by tudier [study])
and the action it is possible to carry nonetheless remains essential to the
out in these elds. In the museum, general operations of the museum.
research consists of the intellectual Research is one of the three activi-
activities and work aimed at disco- ties of the PRC model (Preservation
very, invention, and the advancement Research Communication) pro-
of new knowledge connected with posed by the Reinwardt Academie
the museum collections, or the acti- (Mensch, 1992) to dene the func-
vities it carries out. tioning of museums; it appears to be
1. Until 2007 ICOM presented a fundamental element for thinkers
research in the French (and of- as different as Zbynek Strnsk or
cial) version of the denition of Georges Henri Rivire, and many
museum, as the driving force behind other museologists from central and
its functioning, the objective of the eastern Europe, such as Klaus Schrei-
museum being to carry out research ner. At the Muse national des Arts
on the material evidence of man and et traditions populaires (The Natio-
society, which is why the museum nal Museum of Folk Arts and Tra-
acquires, conserves, and exhibits ditions), and more precisely through
this evidence. This formal deni- his works on lAubrac, Rivire per-
tion which presented the museum fectly illustrated the repercussions
as a kind of laboratory (open to the of the scientic research programme
public) no longer represents museal for all the functions of a museum, in
reality today, since a large part of particular its acquisition, publication
the research such as was carried out and exhibition policies.
in the last third of the 20th century 2. Aided by market mechanisms
has been moved from museums to which have favoured temporary
laboratories and universities. Now exhibitions to the detriment of per-

73
manent ones, part of the fundamen- sciences, etc.), pursued in order to
tal research has been replaced by a develop tools for museum practice
more applied research, particularly (considered here as museal techni-
in the preparation of temporary ques): material and standards for
exhibitions. Research within the fra- conservation, study or restoration,
mework of the museum or attached surveys of the public, management
to it can be classied into four cate- methods, etc.
gories (Davallon, 1995), according The aim of the third type of
to whether it is part of the opera- research, which can be called
tions of the museum (its technology) museological (for example, museal
or produces knowledge about the ethics), is to stimulate thought
museum. about the mission and operations of
The rst type of research, cer- museums especially through the
tainly the most developed, is direct work of ICOFOM. The disciplines
evidence of traditional museal acti- involved are essentially philosophy
vity and is based on the museums and history, or museology as dened
collections, relying essentially on by the Brno school.
the reference disciplines connec- Finally, the fourth type of research,
ted with the content of the collec- which can also be seen as museologi-
tions (history of art, history, natural cal (understood as all critical thought
sciences, etc.). The building of clas- connected with the museal) addres-
sication systems, inherent to the ses analysis of the institution, in par-
building of a collection and produc- ticular through its communication
tive of catalogues, was one of the and heritage aspects. The sciences
foremost research priorities within mobilised for building up knowledge
the museum, particularly in natural about the museum itself are history,
science museums (this is the essence anthropology, sociology and linguis-
of taxonomy), but also in museums tics, etc.
of ethnography, archaeology and of
course ne art. Z DERIVATIVES: MUSEOLOGICAL RESEARCH CENTRE,
RESEARCHER.
The second type of research invol-
ves sciences and disciplines which
lie outside the realm of museology ) CORRELATED: CURATOR, COMMUNICATION,
MUSEOLOGY, MUSEUM STUDIES, PRESERVATION,
(physics, chemistry, communication SCIENTIFIC PROGRAMME OF THE MUSEUM, STUDY.

74
S
SOCIET Y cultural development) or tourism
and economy, as is the case today. In
n. Equivalent in French: socit; Spanish:
this sense society can be understood
sociedad; German: Gesellschaft, Bevlke-
rung; Italian: societ; Portuguese: sociedade. as all the inhabitants of one or more
countries, or even the entire world.
In its most general sense, society This is the case for UNESCO, the
is the human group understood international promoter most com-
as a more or less coherent whole mitted to the maintenance and deve-
in which systems of relationships lopment of cultures and the respect
and exchange are established. The of cultural diversity, as well as to
society addressed by museums can the development of educational sys-
be dened as a community of indi- tems a category in which museums
viduals (in a specic place at a speci- willingly take their place.
c time) organised around common 2. If on rst sight society can be
political, economic, legal and cultu- dened as a community structured
ral institutions, of which the museum by institutions, the concept of com-
is a part and with which it builds its munity itself differs from that of
activities. society, since a community is a group
1. Since 1974 the museum has been of people living collectively or for-
viewed by ICOM following the ming an association, sharing a num-
declaration of Santiago de Chile as ber of things in common (language,
an institution in the service of religion, customs) without necessa-
society and its development. This rily gathering around institutional
proposal, historically determined by structures. More generally speaking,
the birth of the expression deve- society and community are generally
loping country and its identication differentiated by their assumed size:
during the 1970s as a third group of the term community is generally
countries between western and eas- used to dene smaller and more
tern countries, sees the museum as an homogeneous groups (the Jewish
agent for the development of society, community, the gay community, etc.,
whether this be culture (the use of in a city or in a country), whereas the
the term going so far as to include its term society is often used in the case
literal meaning at this time of agri- of much larger and necessarily more

75
heterogeneous groups of people (the includes museums which share the
society of this country, bourgeois same objective: to study the evol-
society). More precisely, the term ution of humanity in its social and
community, regularly used in Anglo- historical components, and to trans-
American countries, does not have mit the staging posts, the points of
a true equivalent in French since it reference, for understanding the
represents A collection of consti- diversity of cultures and societies
tuents or stakeholders 1) audiences, (Vaillant, 1993). These objectives
2) scholars, 3) other public inter- establish the museum as a truly inter-
preters, e.g. Press, interpretative disciplinary space and can produce
artists, 4) program providers arts exhibitions addressing subjects as
groups, etc, 5) repositories, inclu- varied as the BSE crisis, immigra-
ding libraries, preservation agencies, tion, ecology etc. The operation of
museums (American Association of community museums, which can
Museums, 2002). The term is transla- be part of the movement of social
ted in French either by collectivit or museums, is more directly related
population locale or communaut (in to the social, cultural, professional
a restricted sense), or also by milieu or geographical group which they
professionel. represent and which is meant to sus-
3. Two types of museums social tain them. Although often professio-
museums and community museums nally managed, they may also rely on
have been developed in recent deca- local initiative alone and the spirit of
des in order to emphasise the specic giving. The issues they address touch
connection that these museums wish directly on the functioning and iden-
to build with their public. These tity of this community; this is parti-
museums, traditionally ethnogra- cularly the case for neighbourhood
phic museums, present themselves museums and ecomuseums.
as establishments which have strong
ties with their public, who is at the Z DERIVATIVES: SOCIAL MUSEUMS, SOCIETY
MUSEUMS.
centre of their work. Although the
nature of their respective objectives
is similar, their management style
) CORRELATED: COMMUNITY, COMMUNITY
DEVELOPMENT, COMMUNITY MUSEUM, DEVELOPMENT
differs, as does their relation with PROGRAMME, ECOMUSEUM, IDENTITY, LOCAL,
the public. The term social museums NEIGHBOURHOOD MUSEUM, PUBLIC.

76
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