Touching the Past: Investigating Lived Experiences of Heritage in Living History Museums

By Alevtina Naumova.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper investigates analytic potential of considering living museums as ‘sensory spheres,’ as opposed to visual spaces designed within the curatorial paradigm of traditional historic museums. This approach suggests the view of living museums as multi-sensory environments, which foster bodily awareness of space, time, and materiality of objects from the past. This corporeal engagement precedes analytic work of the mind and transforms one’s experience at a living museum into a connective encounter with the materiality of the space and one’s lived experiences within it. The paper unpacks several possible entry points into the study of the process by which symbolic properties of the space are formed in the course of making sense of the communal past and cultural heritage. Specifically, the paper explores how Merleau-Ponty’s ideas on the phenomenology of lived experiences and psychoanalytic articulation of primary processes work to advance our understanding of the corporeal experience of the communal past. This analysis provides the ground for final articulations on how experiences of tangible heritage translate into the experience of intangible heritage, namely the lived experience of the communal and personal past and reconsideration of the personal and communal present. The discussion is based on my observations as a tour guide at the Mackenzie House Museum in Toronto, ON.

Keywords: Experiential reality, Museum Studies, Phenomenology, Heritage, History Museum

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 7, Issue 3-4, pp.1-8. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 458.340KB).

Alevtina Naumova

Ph.D Candidate, Joint Graduate Program in Communication and Culture, Ryerson/York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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