European Commission - 7th Framework Programme European Museums and Libraries in/of the age of migrations last updated: February 2015

Museum Metaphors

20 November 2013

Nottingham, United Kingdom | University of NottinghamNottingham Institute for Research in Visual Culture


The eventorganised by Dr Lucy Bradnock (The University of Nottingham) and Briley Rasmussen (University of Leicester), is meant to explore different interpretations of the museum.

Throughout the relatively short history of the art museum, metaphorical constructs have often been used to explain the museum’s social and cultural role, as well as to define its various protagonists. Through the metaphorical language of the museum as, for example, temple (Duncan), tomb (Adorno), laboratory (Barr), or supermarket (Warhol), artists, curators, critics, philosophers and historians have sought to read the institution of the museum as symbolic of particular cultural and social ideologies.

Against the backdrop of a growing current interest in institutional and exhibition histories, this symposium will consider the many metaphors that have been used to describe, define and theorise museums. We will also address how changes in the metaphorical language of the museum might indicate broader discursive shifts. In addition, it will ask what metaphorical constructs shape our conception of museums today.

We seek proposals that address examples of museum metaphors from a range of historical, geographic, and theoretical perspective. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

• The museum metaphor in museological discourse;
• The museum as metaphor in artistic practice;
• Metaphor, behaviour and the museum’s publics;
• Museum metaphor, modernism and postmodernism;
• Metaphor and museum architecture and/or design;
• Social and spatial metaphors in the museum context;
• Museum metaphors in film, literature and popular culture.

The scholars interested in participating to the event should submit proposals of up to 250 words to Lucy Bradnock by Monday 9 September 2013.


» link to the Conference