Museum Bodies: The Politics and Practices of Visiting and by Helen Rees Leahy

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By Helen Rees Leahy

"Museum our bodies" offers an account of the way museums have staged, prescribed and accommodated a repertoire of physically practices, from their emergence within the eighteenth century to the current day. so long as museums have existed, their viewers were scrutinised, either officially and informally, and their behaviour calibrated as a check in of cognitive receptivity and cultural competence. but there was little sustained theoretical or sensible realization given to the viewers' embodied come upon with the museum. In "Museum our bodies" Helen Rees Leahy discusses the politics and perform of customer reports, and the differentiation and exclusion of definite our bodies at the foundation of, for instance, age, gender, academic attainment, ethnicity and incapacity. At a time while museums are greater than ever fascinated about measurement, demographic combine and the variety in their audiences, in addition to with the ways that viewers interact with and reply to institutional house and content material, this wide-ranging learn of holiday makers' embodied event of the museum is lengthy past due.

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20 The tone and intent of future policy had been set. In May 1757, the trustees approved ‘The Statutes and Rules to be Observed in the Management and Use of the British Museum, by Order of the Trustees’. m. m. m. m. m. m. on Monday and Friday between May and August. To gain general admission to the museum, a person had to apply for a ticket, giving their name, ‘condition’ and place of residence, as well as the time and date when they wanted to visit (Figure 3). Ticket applications had to be made in person, thereby necessitating two visits to the museum: first to apply for the ticket, and then for the visit itself.

By contrast, the Royal Academy exhibition was open to all with a shilling to spare and a visitor could spend all day there, if they wished. Both eyes and bodies roamed freely around the Great Room which formed the centrepiece of the exhibition and where a dense mosaic of pictures covered the walls from floor to ceiling (Figure 2). Each institution attracted both praise and censure for their accessibility (or lack of it), the diversity (or not) of the public that they attracted, and for the modes of viewing that they staged.

In turn, debates about the regulation of access to both the British Museum and the Royal Academy were symptomatic of, and constitutive of, the instability of each institution during the second half of the eighteenth century as each negotiated its position within the expanding ‘exhibitionary complex’. Questions of what it meant for each organisation to be a ‘public body’, funded respectively by the state and (at least partly) by the monarch, were both immediate and practical. Was it necessary for a national institution to be accessible to the entire population, and if so, what would such equality of admission entail?

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