Location of Repository

Museum semiotics: a new approach to museum communication.

By P. Maria de Lourdes Horta

Abstract

The research explores the theoretical possibility of a semiotic approach to the Museum phenomenon, seen as a process of communication and signification, and the consequences on the determination of the social function of museums, in its semantic and pragmatic levels. It proposes a new discipline for the field – that of ‘Museum Semiotics’, as a theoretical background and tool for the understanding of museums as ‘semiotic spaces’, acting in the cultural process through their ‘communicative actions’. PARTS I and II propose the basic assumptions and premises for the study of the specific Museum Language, defining its terms and concepts, and considering museum objects as bearing a ‘sign-function’, as ‘signifying units’ used under the construction of messages and ‘discourses’, manifested or hidden in museum exhibitions. The mechanisms of the process of sign production and of sign interpretation in the Museum context, the concept of ‘museality’, the Museum ‘mythological speech’, the interplay in the museum communication process, are explored here. PARTS III and IV propose and develop a preliminary model of exhibition ‘texts’ and of their specific ‘rhetorics’, applied in a particular case study, the exhibition on ‘Buddhism, Art and Faith’, held at the British Museum (1985), in order to detect the multiple ways in which the public ‘reads’ a Museum message, and all the elements working in this process. PART V presents the conclusions and insights on Museum Communication, on exhibition production and evaluation, on Museum Education, and on new fields of research opened up through the approach of Museum Semiotics, proposing a strategy for changing the conditions of communication, through open and aesthetic texts, which may encourage the visitors to recover their freedom of decoding

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 1992
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/4739

Suggested articles

Preview

Citations

  1. 6tude de Ilevenement exposition et de son public(au Centre Georges Pompidou en 1985), Cahiers Expo-Media, n. l. edited by Christian carrier,
  2. 700 ans au menu -7 expositions expos6es, Alimentarium, Mus6e de l'Alimentation,
  3. a Art as a semiotic f act, acts of the eighth international congress of philosophy,
  4. (1979). a Conceito de Texto, Portuguese translation by Carla de Queiroz of a series of conferences at the
  5. (1979). A Construgeo do Sentido na Arquitetura, Editora Perspectiva, first published
  6. a Costume as a Sign, the functional and structural concept in Ethnography,
  7. a Dramatic Text as a component of Theater, f irst published in Slovo a slovesnost,
  8. a Dynamics of the sign in the Theater, f irst published in Slovo a slovesnost,
  9. A Estrat6gia dos Signos, Linguageml Espagol Ambiente
  10. (1977). a Exhibit evaluation: an introduction, The Visitor and the Museum, The
  11. (1980). a La Chambre Claire, Portuguese translation by J. Castanon Guimaraes, first published Cahiers du Cin6ma/Gallimard/Seuil,
  12. A la recherche de llessence du langage, translation by Jacques Havet, first published in Diogene, 51, Gallimard, Paris, Portuguese translation by I. Blikstein
  13. a objects in Structures,
  14. a on the semiotic mechanism of culture (1971), Portuguese translation
  15. A perspective on criticism - guidelines for history museums exhibition reviews,
  16. A preliminary guide for conducting naturalistic evaluation in studying museum environments, office of Museum Programs, Smithsonian Institution,
  17. a S6mantique Structurale, recherche de m6thode, first published 1966, L. Larousse, Paris, Spanish translation by A. de la Fuente, Editorial Gredos S.
  18. A symbolic mirror of ourselves: civic ritual in mass society,
  19. a The measurement and facilitator of learning in the museum environment: an experimental analysis, Smithsonian Institution,
  20. (1977). a The production of belief: contribution to an economy of symbolic goods, extract from Actes de la Recherche en Science Sociale,
  21. a Theories of the media, theories of society,
  22. A Theory of Play and Fantasy,
  23. (1976). A theory of semiotics,
  24. a Thinking about things: approaches to the study of artefacts,
  25. a To open up a few corpsest unpublished paper,
  26. A Transactional Model of Communication, Language Behavior,
  27. (1982). a user's guide, Multimedia Publications
  28. A Viewpoint: The Museum system and Implications Curator, 11(l), 34-40. as a communications for
  29. a What is Poetry?, first published in Voln6 smery, 30,1933/34, English translation by M. Hein for studies in Verbal Art,
  30. (1960). a- Authors and Writers
  31. (1960). a- Linguistique et Po6tique, first published in English as 'Closing statements: Linguistics and Poetics',
  32. Adults and the Humanities, a guide for educational programming,
  33. Aesthetics of Dramatic Art (Estetika dramatick6ko umeni),
  34. All is f or one but one is not for all: a conceptual perspective of interpersonal communication,
  35. an advanced introduction,
  36. an art form or educational medium?
  37. Ancetres sont parmi nous, texts edited by
  38. and social order,
  39. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax,
  40. Assessing the effectiveness of exhibitis, Museums Association Proceedings,
  41. Auditing visitor behavior,
  42. (1942). b Basic features of dramatic dialogue, first published
  43. b Folk song from a functional point of view,
  44. (1982). b L'Obvie et l'Obtus, Portuguese translation by Isabel Pascoal, f irst edition Ed. du Seuil,
  45. b Learning and exhibits - instructional design,
  46. b Looking at Museums with Michel Foucault, unpublished paper for the conference Making 'Exhibitions of ourselves: the Representation of Other Cultures, at the British Museum,
  47. b Measuring the immeasurable -a pilot study of museum effectiveness, The Association of Science-Technology Centers,
  48. b Museum visiting as a cultural phenomenon,
  49. (1936). b Poetic Reference (D6nomination P06tique et la fonction esth6tique de la langue) , acts of the international congress of linguistics,
  50. b Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language,
  51. b Sending: on Representation,
  52. b signum et signatum, first published in Slovo a slovesnost, 2,1936, English translation by M. Hein for Studies in Verbal Art,
  53. b The aristocracy of culture, extract from La Distinction, Ed. du Minuit, Paris, reprinted in Distinction, Routledge and Kegan,
  54. b The Hierarchy of Dramatic Devices,
  55. b The interpretation of myth: theory and practice,
  56. bA dynamic model of the semiotic system (1974), Portuguese translation
  57. Basic generalized graphic model of communication, from G. Gerbner, Towards a general model of communication,
  58. (1981). Batsford Academid and Educational Ltd. and open
  59. Behavioural consistancy and visitor attraction,
  60. (1984). Bruissement de la langue, Portuguese translation by Mario Laranjeira, first edition Ed. du Seuil,
  61. (1942). c Construction of semantic contexts, first published
  62. c Image - Music - Text, essays selected and translated by Stephen Heath, first -edition
  63. c objects as Signs and Symbols,
  64. c Semiotics in the Folk Theater, first published in Slovo a slovesnost, 4,1938,138-149, English translation
  65. (1966). c The Essence of the visual arts, lecture given in 1944, first published in Studie z estetiky,
  66. (1979). c The problem of the sign and of the sign system in the typology of culture before the XXth century
  67. (1968). c- LIEffet du R6el
  68. (1962). c- The Imagination of the Sign
  69. Catalogue edited by W. Zwalf,
  70. Codes and Cultural Analysis,
  71. Cognitive Development: its cultural and social foundations,
  72. (1969). Communication de masse - 616ments de Sociologie empirique, French translation by
  73. Communication Stu i dies, an introductory reader,
  74. (1971). Communication Studies, an introductory reader,
  75. (1983). Communication theory, an introduction, first published
  76. (1962). consumo, Spanish translation by Maria Rosa Viale, first published
  77. Cours de Linguistique G6n6rale, first edition
  78. Cultural Anthropology and Linguistics,
  79. Cultural dependency and the mass media,
  80. Cultural empowerment and museums,
  81. Cultural materialism: a struggle for a science of culture, Random House,
  82. Cultural studies: two paradigms,
  83. (1940). d Forms and Functions of Folk Theater, an abbreviated version of the f irst chapter of
  84. (1973). d Some aspects of the pictorial sign
  85. d The Semiotic Challenge, English translation by Richard Howard, first edition
  86. (1980). d What brings us a semiotic approach?
  87. (1964). d- The Plates of the Encyclopaedia
  88. d- The rhetoric of the image, first published in communications,
  89. (1983). David ý GLOVER
  90. de 1'Ethnographie, text edited by
  91. De-schooling the museum: a proposal to increase public access to museums through their resources,
  92. Decoding Advertisements - ideology and meaning in Advertising, Marion Boyars,
  93. Des animaux et des hommes, texts edited to complement and extend the exhibition with the same title,
  94. Discours de l'Histoire (1967), first published in informations sur les Sciences Sociales;
  95. (1942). Discursive and Presentational Forms, from Philosophy in a New Key,
  96. du Seuil, Paris, Portuguese translation by A. C. Cruz Cezar and others, Editora Vozes,
  97. E internalization in Vygotsky's . he genesis of higher mental
  98. (1964). e- Semantics of the Object
  99. (1961). e- The Photographic Message
  100. e- The third meaning, research notes on some Eisenstein stills, first published
  101. (1964). E16ments de S6miologie, Portuguese translation by Izidoro Blikstein, f irst edition Ed. du Seuil,
  102. Edigoes 70,
  103. Education in Glass-Case Museums,
  104. Educational evaluation and research in museums and public exhibits: a bibliography, Curator,
  105. (1974). Ef f ects of the technology and its uses, f rom
  106. Effective interpretive exhibitions, countryside commission for England and
  107. (1972). English translation Jonathan Cape ýLtd.
  108. (1986). Espace social et pouvoir symbolique, lecture given at the University of San Diego,
  109. Essais S6miotiques, f
  110. Evaluating didactic exhibitis: a critical look at Shettel's work,
  111. Evaluation of museum programs and exhibits,
  112. Exhibiting meaningfully - the semantics of display in agricultural museums,
  113. Exploration of the ways, means and values of museum communication with the viewing-public,
  114. (1946). f irst edition Harper and Brothers,
  115. f irst published in French 1971, 'Que sais-je? l series, Presses Universitaires de France, English translation by George Gross,
  116. (1964). f- The Kitchen of Meaning
  117. (1969). f- The Structural Analysis of Narrative (A propos of Acts 10-II) ,
  118. Film Institute, London. I McLUHAN,
  119. Forgerons et Alchimistes, Ernest Flammarion,
  120. Formative evaluation of exhibits at the British Museum (NH)j
  121. Furniture of , the Mind, unpublished paper,
  122. (1970). g- The Old Rhetoric - an aide-m6moire
  123. Gangs and Culture: Evaluation in Museums,
  124. History sub specie semioticae, Portuguese translation
  125. How do children behave in Museums?,
  126. How much is a piece of the True cross worth?
  127. How objects become meaningful: or a new communications model for museums,
  128. (1973). i- Textual Analysis of a Tale by Edgar Allan Poe
  129. ideology and philosophy
  130. Impact of exhibit type or knowledge gain, attitudes and behaviour,
  131. Improving audio visual presentations,
  132. Information Centres: some principles and approaches,
  133. Interpersonal communication: Survey and Studies,
  134. Interpreting Material Culture: a view from the other side of the glass, in
  135. Introduction a la s6miotique narrative et discursive,
  136. Introduction to Communication Studies,
  137. Introduction to Culture, Communication and Cognition - Vygotskian perspectives,
  138. (1959). Introduction to The presentation of self in everyday life, Doubleday Anchor,
  139. (1966). Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives
  140. (1974). its cultural andýsocial foundations, f irst published in Russian by Nauka,
  141. Key Concepts in Communication,
  142. Kingdoms and Six Paper Moons from Nahuatl, an exhibition at the Museum of Mankind,
  143. L'objet cr6e par 11homme; Formes et fonctions d1objet: contrastes et analogies, L'objet cr6e par 11homme, French translation by D. Panchout, first published by G.
  144. (1983). L'oeuvre d'art au mus6e, Mus6es et collections publiques de France,
  145. La Grammaire G6n, 6rative, Portuguese translation by Isabel Pascoal, Edigoes 70,
  146. La productivitä dite texte,
  147. (1968). La Struttura assente, Portuguese translation by P6rola de Carvalho, first edition Ed.
  148. lair of the monkey: notes towards a post-modernist museography,
  149. Langage et systdmes symboliques, French translation by Louis-Jean Calvet,
  150. (1953). Le Degr6 Z6ro de I'Ecriture, Nouveaux Essais Critiques, Portuguese translation by
  151. Le Geste et la Parole - la m6moire et les rythmes, first published Ed.
  152. (1964). Le Geste et la Parole -Technique et Langage, first published Ed. Albin Michel,
  153. Le march6 des biens symboliques, Portuguese translation by
  154. Le mus6e dans les syst6mes 6ducatifs et culturels contemporains, Le Mus6e au service des hommes aujourd'hui et demain, papers of the Ninth General Conference of ICOM,
  155. Le Systdme des Objets, Portuguese translation Z. Ribeiro Tavares, first edition Ed.
  156. (1986). Leading the public to Nirvana? Interpreting 'Buddhism, Art and Faith', paper for the conference Making Exhibitions of ourselves: the Representation of other Cultures, at the British Museum,
  157. Learning from listening - museums improve their effectiveness through visitor studies,
  158. (1974). Learning through Experience and Learning
  159. Leicester Museum Studies Series, edited by Susan Pearce,
  160. Les genx-es du discours, Portuguese translation by
  161. (1965). Les origines de la forme en Art, L'objet cr6e par 11homme, French translation
  162. Linguistique G6n6rale, translation and introduction by Nicolas Ruwet, Les Editions de Minuit,
  163. Llexpansion de la s6miotique, Informations sur les sciences sociales,
  164. Logic as Semiotic: the Theory of Signs,
  165. Marxism and the Philosophy of Language,
  166. Material Culture and the study of American life,
  167. McLuhanism in the museum,
  168. Merchandising and Popular Taste: the struggle for influence,
  169. mind,
  170. Museos fx-ios y calientes, Serie arte y comunicacion, 4, Museo de Telecomunicaciones, Buenos Aires.
  171. (1986). Museum - the Re-presentation of History, Pluto Press Ltd., London and'Sydney. ICOFOM MUWOP - Museological working papers unpublished papers for the annual meetings of the Committee for Museology,
  172. Museum as dialogue,
  173. Museum Materials for Children,
  174. Museum work as a profession,
  175. Nad skladbou expozicni promluvy (On the language of ' an exhibition), Muzeologicke sesity 9/83,
  176. New perspectives in evaluating museum environments: an annotated bibliography, Office of Museum Programs, Smithsonian Institution,
  177. o a Objects as meaning; or narrating the past,
  178. object knowledge: every museum visitor an interpreter,
  179. Object lessons in the museum medium,
  180. Objects and others - essays on museums and material cul ture, editor,
  181. objects in Structures,
  182. Objets pr6textes, objets manipul6s, texts edited to complement and extend the exhibition with the same title,
  183. On Human Communication,
  184. on some problems in the semiotics of the visual arts: field and vehicle in Image-signs, first published in
  185. On the characteristics of total institutions,
  186. (1962). on the possibility of a typo log ica 1-structura 1 study of some modelling semiotic systems, first published
  187. on the problem of a typology of culture, f irst published in Semeiotike, Trudi po, znakovim sistiemam III (Semeiotike, studies on the systems of signs III) ,
  188. (1981). On the semiotics of Art, Portuguese translation
  189. outline of a technology of effective science exhibits, Curation of palaeontological collections:
  190. Paris, 4th edition.
  191. Patterns of Culture, Portuguese translation by Alberto Candeias, introduction by Franz Boas, Editora Livros do Brasil,
  192. (1942). Perception through Experience, Portuguese translation
  193. (1973). Portuguese translation
  194. (1967). Portuguese translation by
  195. Portuguese translation by Isabel Gongalves,
  196. (1973). Portuguese translation by P6rola de Carvalho, first edition Ed.
  197. Portuguese translation by S. Uchoa Leite, f irst edition Ed.
  198. Probl6mes et M6thodes de la S&miologie, Librairie Marcel Didier et Librairie Larousse, Portuguese translation by
  199. Problems in the language of museum interpretation, The Museum in the service of man today and tomorrow, papers from the
  200. (1943). Prolegomena to a Theory of Language
  201. (1986). Public Displays in a privatizing world, paper for the conference Making Exhibitions of Ourselves: the Representation of other Cultures, at the British Museum,
  202. published 1936,1065-1072, English translation by
  203. Que sais-je?, series, Presses Universitaires de France, Portuguese translation
  204. Quelques donn6es sur le questionnement du visiteur adulte au Mus6e, unpublished paper,
  205. (1986). Representing India: Issues in the development of the 1982 Festival of India in Britain, paper for the conference Making Exhibitions of ourselves: the Representation of Other Cultures, at the British Museum,
  206. S6miotique - dictionnaire raisonn6e de la th6orie du langage,
  207. (1976). s6miotique et Sciences Sociales, first published E. du Seuil,
  208. sciences et des techniques, approches linguistiques et s6miotiques, Brises, septembre 1987,75-78.
  209. selected and translated by Annette Lavers, f irst edition Ed. du Seuil,
  210. (1982). Semiological Analysis, Media Analysis Techniques, Sage Publications,
  211. Semiotic reading of a
  212. Semiotics of Art,
  213. semiotics, an introductory anthology, introduction by R. Innis,
  214. (1967). Sign and Play in the discourse of the Human Sciences,
  215. Signs in the Chinese Theater, English translation by K. Brusak, first published in Slovo, a slovesnost, 5,1939,
  216. Society and the Media,
  217. some basic principles and issues relating to Museum Education,
  218. Some basic problems of visual education by means of exhibits,
  219. Strategies for determining exhibit effectiveness, American Institutes for Research,
  220. (1979). structuralism and since - from L6vi-Strauss to Derrida,
  221. Studies of visitor behavior in museums and exhibitions - an annotated bibliography,
  222. (1967). Syst6me de la Mode, Portuguese translation by L. L. Salvador Mosca, first edition Ed. du Seuil,
  223. Systämes de signes et syst&mes de signification au-delä du structuralisme,
  224. temps retrouv6, voir les choses du pass6 au pr6sent, texts edited to complement and extend the exhibition with the same title, Mus6e dlethnographie de Neuchatel,
  225. texts edited to complement and extend the exhibition with the same title,
  226. Th6ories du symbole, Portuguese translation by M. de Santa Cruz,
  227. (1964). the Act, from signification and significance,
  228. (1961). The Analysis of Culture, from
  229. (1982). The Beaubourg-Ef f ect: Implosion and Deterrence, English translation by Rosalind Kraus and Anette Michelson,
  230. The British Museum - Purposes and Politics,
  231. (1931). The collected papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, Portuguese translation J. Teixeira Coelho Neto, from the original edition by Charles Hartsforne and Paul Weiss,
  232. The concept of text and symbolist aesthetics, Portuguese translation
  233. The coordinated Management of Meaning: a Theory of Communication,
  234. (1973). The Culture Industry: enlightenment as mass deception (abridged) from Dialectics of Enlightenment,
  235. (1982). The Design of Educational Exhibits, Allen & Unwin, first edition
  236. The development of higher psychological processes, edited by Michael Cole and others,
  237. The Discursive object,
  238. The Dynamics of Human communication, a laboratory approach,
  239. The effectiveness of guidance devices in visitor learning,
  240. The effects of contextual scenes on the identification of objects,
  241. the effects of television,. computex-s and video games, in The Developing Child series, edited by
  242. The Human Receiving System, The Languages of Science, Grenada Lectures of 'the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Basic Books,
  243. The Humanities and the Museum: definitions and connections,
  244. (1968). The impossibility of not communicating, excerpt of Pragmatics of Human Communication,
  245. The inf luence and ef f ects of Mass Media,
  246. The intelligent eye, first published in 1970, Weidenfeld
  247. The link from object, to person, to concept,
  248. The Logic of Perception, 'A Bradford Book',
  249. (1975). The Mathematical Theory of Communication, first edition by the University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Portuguese translation by
  250. (1923). The Meaning of Meaning, a study of the influence of language upon thought and of the science of svmbolism. with sunnlementarv essays by
  251. the Media and the 'Ideological Effect',
  252. The Medium is the Message, Bantam Books,
  253. (1970). The modelling value of the concepts of tend, and of 'beginning'
  254. The museum as a communications system: an assessment of Cameron's view-point,
  255. The Museum as a communicator: a semiotic analysis of the Western Australian Museum Aboriginal Gallery,
  256. The museum as a staging ground for symbolic action,
  257. The museum in the disciplinary society,
  258. The myth of mass culture,
  259. The perceptual process, from Person Perception,
  260. (1973). The Pleasure of the Text
  261. The problem of meaning in primitive languages, in
  262. The readability of museum labels,
  263. The rediscovery of I ideology return of the repressed in media studies,
  264. (1979). The Role of the Reader, explorations in the semiotics of texts, first edition
  265. The Semiology of Language, English translation by Genette Ashby and Adelaide Russo, first published in Semiotica 1-12,1969, Semiotics, an introductory -reader, edited by
  266. The social basis of museum and heritage visiting,
  267. The socio-structural role of the museum,
  268. The sociology of Mass Communications,
  269. The Sociology of the Mass Media, in Themes and Perspectives in Sociology series, edited by M. Haralambos, Causeway Press Ltd.
  270. The structure and function of communication in society, first published
  271. The structure of signs in the cinema, 1970, Portuguese translation by
  272. The study of language, from Philosophy of others
  273. The study of the media: theoretical approaches,
  274. (1984). The Theory of communicative action,
  275. The unique perspective of communication: a retrospective view,
  276. (1980). The use of visual media in the service of enriching mental thought processes,
  277. (1970). The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, first published by Jonathan Cape, illuminations,
  278. The zone of proximal development: where culture and cognition create each other,
  279. Theory: original Essays,
  280. (1980). To label or not to label?,
  281. (1965). Towards a semiotic inquiry into the television message, paper given at the University of Perugia,
  282. translation by I.
  283. Un genre en mutation, Histoires d'Expo, CCI, Centre Georges Pompidou,
  284. une Expol Appxoche de llexposition scientifique, Cahiers Expo-Media, n. 3, edited by Christian Carrier,
  285. Une exposition peut en cacher une autre, approche de llexposition scientifique et technique: la mise en sc6ne de la science au Palais de la D6couverte, Cahier Expo-Media, n. 3, edited by Christian carrier,
  286. Utilization of mass communication by the individual, from Blumler,
  287. Visitors I attitudes to two old and two new exhibitions at the
  288. Voir et toucher la science, 616ments pour llanalyse des strat6gies communicationnelles A lloeuvre dans les mus6es de science et technologie, Cahier Expo-Media, n. 3, edited by Christian Carrier,
  289. Vörit&s premibres de Mus6ographie ... et de Mus6ologie, Scenographier l'Art
  290. Ways of seeing, British Broadcasting Corporation and
  291. (1972). Wrestling with the Angel: Textual Analysis of
  292. (1982). Writings, selected and introduced by Susan Sontag, f irst edition by Jonathan Cape Ltd.,
  293. X mean - an introduction to visual communication,
  294. (1980). Xnformageo e Comunicageo, Editora Perspectiva, first published

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.