Fascinating Narratives: Textual Analysis Inside the Museum

By Elana Bernnard.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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

The phrase, “the plural of anecdotal is not data”— outside of being a pun about hearsay versus fact— it is demonstrative of grammatical syntax, defining law between right and wrong. When it comes to the interpretive aspects of this phrase, it greatly depends upon mediation. The source of mediation has the power to render either anecdote or data into truths. What will be interrogated further here is the museum as mediator. By analyzing wall texts within museum exhibitions this phrase easily displays a likeness to the way museums contribute to perpetuating anecdotes or data on artworks. Museums uphold the pedagogical project of educating viewers on the artworks of their collection; yet, artworks are infinitely endless interpretive entities. Therefore a museum that assigns intricately knotted anecdotes or data to artworks is merely producing a falsely diluted interpretation for viewers. This phrase will become untangled through the second part of the article as a way for museums to now open conversation onto viewers. By providing a fuller history and significance on artworks, viewers will be able to gain appreciation and skills for forming their own interpretation rather than the museum rendering a version for them.

Keywords: Museum Pedagogy, Visitors, Educational Wall Text

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 8, Issue 3, September 2015, pp.1-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 381.449KB).

Elana Bernnard

Subversive Intellectuals Collective (www.subversiveintellectuals. wordpress.com), San Francisco, California, USA


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