Museum Topology and the Will to Connect

Hetherington, Kevin (1997). Museum Topology and the Will to Connect. Journal of Material Culture, 2(2) pp. 199–218.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/135918359700200203

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the relationship between material culture and spatiality. Through the example of the ceramics collection in the City Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, England, an analysis is made of the topological character of space that is folded around certain objects on display. Ozzy the Owl, a 17th Century slipware owl jug, who was discovered on BBC TV's Antiques Roadshow in 1990 and subsequently bought by the museum, is seen as an agent that is constituted by the folding together of preface and afterword in the museum display, unsettling its (Euclidean) geometry, (Kantian) aesthetic and discourse of improvement (Organised around Wedgwood). Ozzy brings complexity and connection; his contingent location within the museum's heterogeneous material netwek reveals the functional blankness of objects and the effects that this can have in performing new topological arrangements in a space, revealing the friability and partial connectedness of its narrativity.

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