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The birth of the museum: history, theory, politics

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W hat is the cultural function o f the m useum ? H ow did m odern m useum s evo lv e? Tony B en n ett’s invigorating study enriches and ch a llen g es our understanding o f the m useum , placing it at the centre o f m odern relations o f culture and governm ent. Bennett argues that the public m useum should be understood not just as a place o f instruction but as a reform atory o f manners in w hich a w ide range o f regulated social routines and perform ances take place. D iscu ssin g the historical developm ent o f m useum s alon g sid e that o f the fair and the international exhibition, he sheds new light upon the relationship betw een m odern form s o f official and popular culture. In a series o f richly detailed case studies from Britain, A ustralia and North A m erica, Bennett in vestigates how nineteenth- and tw entieth-century m useum s, fairs and exh ib itions have organised their co llectio n s, and their visitors. H is u se o f F oucaultian p ersp ectives and his consideration o f m useum s in relation to other cultural institutions o f display p rovides a distinctive perspective on contem porary m useum p o licies and p olitics. T ony B en n ett is Professor o f Cultural Studies and Foundation D irector o f the Institute for Cultural P o licy Studies in the Faculty o f H um anities at Griffith U niversity, Australia. He is the author o f F o rm a lism a n d M a r x is m , O u tsid e L ite r a tu re and (w ith Janet W oollacott) B o n d a n d B e y o n d : T he P o litic a l C a reer o f a P o p u la r H ero.

C U L T U R E : P O L IC IE S A N D P O L IT IC S S eries editors: T ony B en n e tt, J en n ifer Craik, Ian Hunter, C o lin M e rce r and D u g a ld W illia m s o n

W hat are the relations betw een cultural p o licies and cultural politics? Too often, none at all. In the history o f cultural studies so far, there has been no shortage o f d iscu ssion o f cultural p olitics. O nly rarely, however, have such discu ssion s taken account o f the p olicy instrum ents through which cultural activities and institutions are funded and regulated in the mundane politics o f bureaucratic and corporate life. C u ltu re: P o lic ies a n d P o litic s addresses this im balance. The books in this series interrogate the role o f culture in the organization o f social relations o f power, including those o f class, nation, ethnicity and gender. They also explore the w ays in w hich p olitical agendas in these areas are related to, and shaped by, p o licy processes and outcom es. In its com m itm ent to the need for a fuller and clearer p o licy calculus in the cultural sphere, C ulture: P o lic ies a n d P o litic s aims to prom ote a significant transform ation in the political ambit and orientation o f cultural studies and related fields. R O C K A N D P O P U L A R M U S IC p olitics, p o licies, institutions E d ite d by: Tony B ennett, S im o n F rith, L a w re n ce G rossberg, Jo h n Sh ep h erd , G raem e T urner G A M B L IN G C U L T U R E S E d ite d by: Ja n M cM illen F IL M P O L I C Y E d ite d by: A lb e r t M oran

THE BIRTH OF THE MUSEUM History, theory, politics

Tony Bennett


Routledge Taylor & Francis Croup


To Tanya, Oliver and James for liking fairs and tolerating museums

First published 1995 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon 0 X 1 4 4RN Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge 270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016 Reprinted 1996,1997, 1998,1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 (twice), 2006, 2007 (twice), 2008, 2009 (twice) Routledge is an im print o f the Taylor & Francis Group, an inform a business © 1995 Tony Bennett Typeset in Times by Ponting-Green Publishing Services, Chesham, Bucks Printed and bound in Great Britain by TJ International Ltd, Padstow, Cornwall All,rights reserved. N o part o f this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library o f Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress ISBN 10: 0-415-05387-0 (hbk) ISBN 10: 0-415-05388-9 (pbk) ISBN 13: 978-0-415-05387-7 (hbk) ISBN 13: 978-0-415-05388-4 (pbk)


L is t o f fig u r e s A ck n o w le d g em e n ts In tro d u ctio n .

vii viii 1

P a rt I H isto r y an d th eo ry 1 THE FORM ATION OF TH E M U SE U M M u seu m s a n d the p u b lic sp h e re T he re o rd erin g o f th in g s T ra n sp a ren cy a n d so c ia l re g u la tio n

17 25 33 48

2 THE EX H IBITIO N A R Y C OM PLEX D isc ip lin e , su rv e illa n c e , sp e cta c le S ee in g th in g s The ex h ib itio n a ry d isc ip lin e s The e x h ib itio n a ry a p p a ra tu se s C o n clu sio n

59 63 69 75 80 86

3 THE POLITICAL RATIO N A LITY OF THE M U SE U M T he b irth o f th e m u seu m A n o rd e r o f th in g s a n d p e o p le s The m u seu m a n d p u b lic m a n n ers The p o litic a l-d is c u rsiv e sp a c e o f the m u seu m

' .

89 92 95 99 102

P a rt II P o lic ies an d p o litics 4 M U SEU M S A N D ‘THE PEO PLE’ A c o u n try sid e o f the m in d : B ea m ish P eo p lin g th e p a st: S ca n d in a via n a n d A m e ric a n fo r e r u n n e r s O th er p e o p le s, o th e r p a s ts Q u estio n s o f fr a m e w o r k *


109 110 115 120 126


5 OUT OF W HICH PAST? P ersp e c tiv e s on th e p a s t T he fo r m a tio n o f an A u stra lia n p a st: c o n to u rs o f a h isto ry T he sh a p e o f the p a s t

128 128 135 146



P art III T e ch n o lo g ies o f p ro g ress 7 M U SEU M S A N D PROGRESS: N A RR A TIV E, IDEOLOGY, PER FO R M A N C E . O rg a n ize d w a lkin g as e v o lu tio n a ry p r a c tic e P ro g re ss a n d its p e r fo r m a n c e s S e le c tiv e a ffin itie s E v o lu tio n a ry a u to m a ta O ne sex a t a tim e

177 179 186 189 195 201

8 THE SH A PING OF TH IN G S TO COME: EXPO ’88 E v o lu tio n a ry ex ercise s C ivic c a llisth e n ic s

209 213 219

9 A T H O U SA N D A N D O NE TRO U BLES: BLACK PO OL P LE A SU R E BEACH M o d ern ity a n d re sp e c ta b ility T he P le a su re B ea c h a n d B la c k p o o l A site o f p le a s u r e s A w o rld tu rn e d u p sid e d o w n ?

229 230 236 237 242

N o te s B ib lio g ra p h y In d e x .

246 256 270




1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 1.10 1.11 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 4.1 4.2 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 9.1 9.2 9.3

P erspective view o f V ictoria Festival o f Labour, the Fam ilistere, 1872 C leveland A rcade, 1 8 8 8 -9 0 The B o n M arche Bethnal Green M useum , 1876 The Industrial G allery, Birm ingham Section drawing o f Sir John S o a n e’s M useum , 1827 Elevated prom enade at Luna Park O bservation tow er at Luna Park Southwark Fair, 1733 B u llo c k ’s M useum o f Natural C uriosities The M e ta llo th e c a o f M ich ele M ercati, 1719 The Great E xhibition, 1851 The South K ensington M useum , 1876 Ferrante Im perato’s m useum in N aples, 1599 The Crystal Palace The C hicago Colum bian E xposition, 1893 Map o f Beam ish Open Air M useum B eam ish M useum: dem onstrators at the pit cottages Site map o f World E x p o '88, Brisbane * The ’R ainbow sphere’ • A nnexing national tim e to the m ultinational corporation A dvertisem ent for the Q ueensland Cultural Centre The nineteenth-century gyp sy encam pm ent, B lackpool B lackpool Pleasure Beach, Easter 1913 The ‘w hite k nu ck le’ rides, B lackpool

f vi i

49 50 51 52 53 54 54 56 57 57 58 60 62 71 78 80 85 112 119 216 217 220 222 232 234 239


I o w e a good deal to m any p eop le for their help in m aking this book p ossib le. First, I am grateful to Bronw yn Ham mond for her skilled and enthusiastic research assistance over a number o f years. Apart from helping to keep the book a live prospect in the m idst o f other com m itm ents, B ronw yn’s lo v e for sleuthing in the archives proved invaluable in locating material w hich I doubt I should otherw ise have found. Jennifer Craik and lan Hunter offered very helpful editorial su ggestion s at the final stage o f assem bling the book. I am grateful to both o f them for the pains they went to in leaving no sentence unturned. W hile, no doubt, there is still room for im provem ent, m y argum ents are a good deal m ore econom ical and m ore clearly form ulated as a consequence. Both also helped with their com m ents on the substance o f the argument in particular chapters. M any others have contributed to the book in this way. T hose w hose advice has proved esp ecially helpful in this regard include C olin Mercer, w hose unfailing friendship and colleg ia lity 1 have enjoyed for many years now, and D avid Saunders w ho can alw ays be counted on for pointed but constructive criticism - and for much more. I am also grateful to Pat Buckridge, D avid Carter and John Hutchinson for their com m ents on Chapter 8. A s is alw ays the case, I have learned a good deal from the points made in criticism and debate in the d iscu ssion s that have fo llo w ed the various sem inars at w hich I have presented the ideas and arguments brought together here. I esp ecially valued the points made by W ayne Hudson in his com m ents * on an early draft o f the argum ents o f Chapter 1 when I presented these at a sem inar in the Sch ool o f Cultural and H istorical Studies at Griffith U niver­ sity. I also learned a good deal from the d iscu ssion w hich fo llo w ed a sim ilar presentation to the Departm ent o f E nglish at the U niversity o f Queensland. Chapter 3 w as first presented at the con feren ce ‘Cultural Studies and C om m unication Studies: C onvergences and D iv er g en ce s’ organized by the Centre for R esearch on Culture and S ociety at Carleton U niversity in 1989. I am grateful to the conference organizers, Ian Taylor, John Shepherd and Valda B lundell, for*inviting m e to take part in the conference and for their hospitality during the period I w as in Ottawa. viii


However, perhaps my greatest debt o f this kind is to the co llea g u es and students involved in two courses - ‘K now ledge and P o w er’ and ‘Australian Cultural P o lic ie s’ - in which m any o f the argum ents presented here were first developed. So far as the first course is concerned, 1 learned much from working alon gsid e Jeffrey M inson and Ian Hunter; with regard to the second, I esp ecially valued the inputs o f Mark Finnane and Stephen Garton. 1 doubt that the book w ould ever have been com pleted but for a period o f extended stud y-leave granted me by Griffith U niversity. I am grateful to the U niversity for^ts generosity and support in this matter. I am also grateful to the Department o f English at the U niversity o f Q ueensland for offerin g me the facilities o f a V isitin g Scholar over this period. I esp ecia lly valued the opportunity this gave me for extended d iscu ssio n s with John Frow and Graeme Turner: I benefited much from their friendship and advice over this period. I am sim ilarly gratefel to St Peter’s C olleg e, O xford U niversity, for the hospitality it extended me when I visited Oxford to consult the resources o f the Bodleian Library - w hose assistance 1 should also like to gratefully acknow ledge. Som e o f this book was written during the period that I was Dean o f the Faculty o f H um anities at Griffith U niversity. The assistance lent me over this period by Teresa Iwinska, the Faculty Manager, was a real help in allow in g me to divert my energies to the jo y s o f the study from tim e to time. I am also grateful to the sta ff o f the Institute for Cultural P olicy Studies for their help and support over a number o f years, and often with particular reference to work undertaken for this book. Barbara Johnstone provided much valued research assistance in relation to som e o f the earlier phases o f the work; Sharon C lifford has provided expert adm inistrative support; and Glenda D onovan and Bev Jeppeson have helped at various stages in preparing the text. Robyn Pratten and Karen Yarrow have also assisted in this. I am grateful to all o f them. Som e o f the chapters have been published previously in other con texts. Chapter 2 w as first published in N e w F o rm a tio n s (no. 4, 1988) w hile Chapter 3 was first published in C o n tin u u m (vol. 3, no. 1, 1989). Chapter 4 initially appeared in Robert L um ley (ed .) T h e M u seu m T im e-M a c h in e: P u ttin g C u ltu res on D isp la y (R outledge, 1988), w hile Chapter 6 w as included in Jody Berland and W ill Straw (eds) T h eo ry R u le s (U niversity o f Toronto Press, 1993). Chapter 8 first appeared in C u ltu ra l S tu d ie s (vol. 5, no. 1, 1991) w hile Chapter 9 w as first published in F o rm a tio n s o f P le a su re (R outledge, 1982). A ll o f these are reprinted here without any substantial variation. Chapter 5 is a shortened version o f an occasion al paper published by the Institute for Cultural P olicy Studies. Som e aspects o f Chapter 1 were rehearsed in an article published under the title ‘M useum s, governm ent, culture’ in S ite s (no. 25, 1992). However, the form ulations published here are substantially revised and extended. I am grateful to Beam ish M useum for its perm ission to use the illustrations


accom panying Chapter 4, and to B risbane’s South Bank Corporation, S elcom , and IBM A ustralia Ltd for their perm ission in relation to the illustrations accom panying Chapter 8. I am indebted to Steve Palm er and to B lackpool Pleasure Beach Ltd for their help in locating the illustrations for Chapter 9. It’s hard to say why, but, as a matter o f con ven tion, partners seem alw ays to get the last m ention in acknow ledgem ents although they contribute m ost. Sue is no excep tion - so thanks, yet again, for helping m e through this one in w ays too num erous to m ention.


In his essay ‘O f other sp a ce s’, M ichel Foucault defines heterotopias as places in which ‘all the other real sites that can be found w ithin the culture, are sim ultaneously represented, contested, and in verted ’ (Foucault 1986: 24). A s such, he argues that the m useum and the library - both ‘heterotopias o f indefinitely accum ulating tim e ’» - are peculiar to, and characteristic of, nineteenth-century W estern culture: the idea o f accum ulating everything, o f establishing a sort o f general archive, the w ill to en close in one place all tim es, all ep och s, all form s, all tastes, the idea o f constituting a place o f all tim es that is itself outside o f time and inaccessible to its ravages, the project o f organising in this a sort o f perpetual and indefinite accum ulation o f tim e in an im m obile place, this w hole idea belon gs to our m odernity. (Foucault 1986: 26) Ranged against the m useum and the library, Foucault argues, are those heterotopias w hich, far from being linked to the accum ulation o f tim e, are linked to time ‘in its m ost fleeting, transitory, precarious aspect, to tim e in the mode o f the festiv a l’ (ibid.: 26). A s his paradigm exam ple o f such spaces, Foucault cites ‘the fairgrounds, these m arvellous em pty sites on the outskirts o f cities that teem once or tw ice a year with stands, displays, heteroclite objects, w restlers, snake-w om en, fortune-tellers, and so forth’ (ibid.: 26). The terms o f the opposition are familiar. Indeed, they form ed a part o f the discursive co-ordinates through which the m useum , in its nineteenth-century form, was thought into being via a process o f double differentiation. For the process o f fashioning a new space o f representation for the m odern public museum was, at the sam e tim e, one o f constructing and defending that space o f representation as a rational and scientific one, fully capable o f bearing the didactic burden placed upon it, by differentiating it from the disorder that • was imputed to com peting exhibitionary institutions. This was, in part, a matter o f distinguishing the m useum from its predecessors. It was thus quite com m on, toward the end o f the nineteenth century, for the m useum ’s early historians - or, perhaps more accurately, its rhapsodists - to contrast its



achieved order and rationality with the jum bled incongruity w hich now seem ed to characterize the cabinets o f curiosity w hich, in its ow n lights, the m useum had supplanted and surpassed. T hose w ho w ould visit the local m useum s in Britain’s sm aller tow ns, Thom as G reenw ood warned in 1888, should be prepared to find ‘dust and disorder reigning suprem e’. And worse: The orderly soul o f the M useum student w ill quake at the sight o f a C hinese la d y ’s boot encircled by a necklace made o f sharks’s teeth, or a helm et o f one o f C rom w ell’s soldiers grouped w ith som e Roman rem ains. A nother corner m ay reveal an Egyptian m um m y placed in a m ediaeval chest, and in more than one instance the curious visitor might be startled to find the cups won by a crack cricketer o f the county in the collectio n , or even the stuffed relics o f a pet pug dog. (G reenw ood 1888: 4) B y contrast, where new m useum s had been established under the M useum s or Public Library A cts, G reenw ood asserts that ‘order and system is com ing out o f c h a o s’ ow in g to the constraints placed on ‘fo ssilism or fo o lish p roceed in gs’ by the dem ocratic com p osition o f the bodies responsible for governing those m useum s. This attribution o f a rationalizing effec t to the dem ocratic influence o f a citizenry was, in truth, som ew hat rare, esp ecia lly in the British con text. 1 For it was more usually scien ce that w as held responsible for having subjected m useum displays to the influence o f reason. Indeed, the story, as it was custom arily told, o f the m useum ’s developm ent from chaos to order was, sim ultaneously, that o f s c ie n c e ’s progress from error to truth. Thus, for David Murray, the distinguishing features o f the m odern m useum were the prin­ cip les o f ‘sp ecialisation and classification ’ (Murray 1904: 231): that is, the developm ent o f a range o f sp ecialist m useum types (o f g eo lo g y , natural history, art, etc.) w ithin each o f which objects were arranged in a manner calculated to m ake in telligib le a scientific v iew o f the world. In com parison with this educational intent, Murray argued, pre-m odern m useum s were more concerned to create surprise or provoke wonder. This entailed a focu s on the rare and excep tional, an interest in objects for their singular qualities rather than for their typicality, and encouraged principles o f display aim ed at a sensational rather than a rational and p ed agogic effect. For Murray, the m oralized sk eleton s found in early anatom ical co llectio n s thus achieved such a sensational effec t only at the price o f an incongruity w hich nullified their educational potential. For exam ple, the anatom ical collectio n at Dresden w as arranged like a pleasure garden. Skeletons were interw oven with branches o f trees in the form o f hedges so as to form vistas. A natom ical subjects were difficult to com e by, and when they w ere got, the m ost was made o f them. At L eyden they had the skeleton o f an ass upon which sat a 2


woman that killed her daughter; the skeleton o f a man, sitting upon an ox, execu ted for stealing cattle; a young th ief hanged, being the Bridegroom w hose Bride stood under the gallow s. . . (Murray 1904: 208) Yet sim ilar incongruities persisted into the present w here, in com m ercial exhibitions o f natural and artificial w onders, in travelling m enageries and the circus and, above all, at the fair, they form ed a part o f the surrounding cultural environs from which the m useum sought constantly to extricate itself. For the fair o f \ЛпсЬ Foucault speaks did not m erely relate to time in a different way from the m useum . N or did it sim ply occupy space differently, tem por­ arily taking up residence on the c ity ’s outskirts rather than being perm anently located in its centre. The fair also confronted - and affronted - the m useum as a still extant em bodim ent o f the ‘irrational’ and ‘ch a o tic’ disorder that had characterized the m useum ’s precursors. It was, so to speak, the m useum ’s own pre-history com e to haunt it. The anxiety exhibited by the N ational M useum o f V ictoria in the stress it placed, in its founding years (the 1850s), on its intention to display ‘small and ugly creatures’ as w ell as ‘sh o w y ’ ones - to display, that is, objects for their instructional rather than for their curiosity or ornam ental value - thus related as much to the need to differentiate it from contem porary popular exhibitions as to that o f dem onstrating its historical surpassing o f the cabinet o f curiosities. The opening o f the N ational M useum o f V ictoria coincided with M elb ourne’s acquisition o f its first perm anent m enagerie, an estab­ lishm ent housed in a com m ercial am usem ent park w hich - just as much as the m enagerie it contained - was given over to the principles o f the fabulous and the am azing. W hereas the m enagerie stressed the exotic q ualities o f anim als, so the accent in the surrounding entertainm ents com prising the amusement park was on the m arvellous and fantastic: ‘Juan Fernandez, who nightly put his head into a lion ’s mouth, a Fat Boy, a Bearded W oman, som e Ethiopians, W izards, as w ell as B illiards, Shooting G alleries, Punch and Judy Show s and B ow lin g S a lo o n s’ (Goodm an 1990: 28). If, then, as G oodm an puts it, the N ational M useum o f V ictoria represented itse lf to its public as a ‘classifyin g h o u se’, em phasizing its scien tific and instructional q ualities, this was as much a way o f declaring that it was not a circus or a fair as it w as a means o f stressing its d ifferen ces from earlier collectio n s o f curiosities. Yet, how ever much the m useum and the fair were thought o f and functioned as contraries to one another, the op position Foucault posits between the tw o is, perhaps, too starkly stated. It is also in sufficien tly historical. O f course, Foucault is fully alert to the historical novelty o f those relations w hich, in the early nineteenth century, saw the m useum and the fair em erge as contraries. Yet he is not equally attentive to the historical processes which have subsequently worked to undermine the terms o f that opposition. The em ergence, in the late nineteenth century, o f another ‘other sp a ce’ - the 3



fixed-site am usem ent park - w as esp ecially significant in this respect in view o f the degree to w hich the am usem ent park occupied a point som ew here betw een the op posin g values Foucault attributes to the m useum and the travelling fair. The form ative developm ents here were A m erican. From the m id-1890s a su ccession o f am usem ent parks at C oney Island served as the prototypes for this new ‘h eterotopia’. W hile retaining som e elem ents o f the travelling fair, the parks m ixed and m erged these with elem en ts derived, indirectly, from the programme o f the public m useum . In their carnival aspects, am usem ent parks thus retained a com m itm ent to ‘tim e in the m ode o f the fe stiv a l’ in providing for the relaxation or inversion o f normal standards o f behaviour. However, w h ile initially tolerant o f traditional fairground sid e-sh o w s - F oucault’s w restlers, snake-w om en and fortune-tellers - this tolerance was alw ays selectiv e and, as the form developed, m ore stringent as am usem ent parks, m odellin g their aspirations on those o f the public parks m ovem ent, sought to dissociate them selves from anything w hich m ight detract from an atmosphere o f w holesom e fam ily entertainment. M oreover, such sid e-sh ow s increasingly clashed with the am usem ent park’s ethos o f m odernity and its com m itm ent, like the m useum , to an accum ulating tim e, to the unstoppable m om entum o f progress which, in its characteristic form s o f ‘h a ilin g ’ (accenting ‘the n ew ’ and ‘the latest’) and entertainm ents (m echanical rides), the am usem ent- park claim ed both to represent and to harness to the cause o f popular pleasure. Their positions w ithin the evolutionary tim e o f progress w ere, o f course, different, as were the w ays in w hich they provided their visitors with opportunities to enact this tim e by building it into the perform ative regim es w hich regulated their itineraries. However, by the end o f the century, both the m useum and the am usem ent park participated in elaborating and diffu sing related (although rarely identical) conceptions o f tim e. This w as not without con sequ en ce for travelling fairs w hich cam e to feature the new m echanical rides alongside w restlers, snake-w om en and fortune-tellers, thereby encom passing a clash o f tim es rather than a singular, fleeting tim e that could be sim ply opposed to the accum ulating tim e o f m odernity. If, then, unlike the traditional travelling fair, fixed-site am usem ent parks gave a specific em bodim ent to m odernity, they were also unlike their itinerant predecessors in the regulated and ordered m anner o f their functioning. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the fair had served as the very em blem for the disorderly form s o f conduct associated with all sites o f popular assem bly. By contrast, early so cio lo g ica l assessm ents o f the cultural significance o f the am usem ent park judged that it had succeeded in pacifying the conduct o f the crowd to a much greater degree than had the public or b enevolent provision o f im proving or rational recreations.2 B y the end o f the nineteenth century, then, the em ergence o f the am usem ent park had w eakened that sense o f a rigorous duality betw een tw o heterotopias 4


_ the museum and the fair - view ed as em bodying antithetical orderings o f time and space. However, this situation had been prepared for in the earlier history o f international exh ib itions w hich, throughout the second h alf o f the nineteenth century, provided for a zone o f interaction betw een the m useum ■tnd the fair w hich, w hile not undoing their separate identities, undermined their seem ingly inherent contrariness in in volvin g them, indirectly, in an incessant and m ultifaceted set o f exchan ges with one another. If the m ost immediate inspiration for C oney Island ’s am usem ent parks w as thus the Midway (or popular fair zon e) at C h ica g o ’s C olum bian Exhibition in 1893, it is no less true that the C hicago M idw ay w as profoundly influenced by museum practices. The role accorded m useum anthropology in harm onizing the representa­ tional horizons o f the M idw ay with the id eological them e o f progress was especially significant in this respect, albeit that, in the event, traditions o f popular show m anship often eclip sed the scien tific pretensions o f anthropo­ lo g y ’s claim s to rank civilization s in an evolutionary hierarchy. There were, however, m any other w ays in which (in spite o f the efforts to keep them clearly separated) the activities o f fairs, m useum s and exh ib itions interacted with one another: the founding co llec tio n s o f m any o f to d a y ’s major metropolitan m useum s were bequeathed by international exhibitions; tech ­ niques o f crowd control developed in exh ib itions influenced the d esign and iayout o f am usem ent parks; and nineteenth-century natural history m useum s throughout Europe and North A m erica ow ed m any o f their sp ecim ens to the network o f animal collectin g agen cies through which P.T. Barnum provided live sp ecies for his various circuses, m enageries and dim e m useum s. Ф The organizing focu s for m y concerns in this study is provided by the museum. Indeed, my purpose - or at least a good part o f it - has been to provide a p olitically focu sed genealogy for the m odern public m useum . By ‘g en ea lo g y ’, I mean an account o f the m useum ’s form ation and early developm ent that w ill help to illum inate the co-ordinates w ithin which questions o f m useum p o licies and politics have been, and continue to be, posed. As such, this account is en visaged as contributing to a shared enterprise. For there are, now, a number o f such histories which aspire to provide accounts o f the m useum ’s past that w ill prove more serviceab le in relation to present-day m useum debates and practices than those accounts still dominant in the 1950s - cast in the w higgish m ould o f the m useum ’s early chroniclers.3 W here, however, the account offered here m ost ob viou sly ditlers from other such endeavours is in its diacritical conception o f the tasks a genealogy o f the m useum m ight u sefully address. Eilean H ooper-G reenhill, tor exam ple, proposes a gen ealogy o f the m useum w hich concerns itself mainly with transform ations in those practices o f classification and display and o f the associated changes in subject positions these im plied - that are mternal to the museum (H ooper-G reenhill 1988). By contrast, I shall argue 5


that the m u seu m ’s form ation needs also to be v iew ed in relation to the developm ent o f a range o f collateral cultural institutions, including appar­ ently alien and disconnected ones. The fair and the exhibition are not, o f course, the only candidates for consideration in this respect. If the m useum w as co n ceiv ed as distinct from and opposed to the fair, the sam e w as true o f the w ays in which its relations to other places o f popular assem bly (and esp ecia lly the public house) were en visaged . Equally, the m useum has undoubtedly been influenced by it$ relations to cultural institutions w hich, lik e the m useum itself and like the early international exh ib ition s, had a rational and im proving orientation: libraries and public parks, for exam ple. N one the less, a number o f character­ istics set the m useum , international exh ib itions and m odern fairs apart as a distinctive grouping. Each o f these institutions is in volved in the practice o f ‘show ing and tellin g ’: that is, o f exh ib iting artefacts and/or persons in a manner calculated to em body and com m unicate sp ecific cultural m eanings and values. They are also institutions w hich, in being open to all-com ers, have shown a sim ilar concern to devise w ays o f regulating the conduct o f their visitors, and to do so, ideally, in w ays that are both unobtrusive and selfperpetuating. Finally, in their recognition o f the fact that their v isito r s’ experiences are realized via their physical m ovem ent through an exhibitionary space, all three institutions have shared a concern to regulate the perform ative aspects o f their v isito r s’ conduct. O vercom ing m ind/body dualities in treating their visitors as, essen tially, ‘m inds on le g s ’, each, in its different way, is a place for ‘organized w a lk in g ’ in w hich an intended m essage is com m unicated in the form o f a (m ore or less) directed itinerary. N one the le ss, for all their d istin ctiven ess, the changes that can be traced w ithin the practices o f these exhibitionary institutions need also to be view ed in their relations to broader developm ents affectin g related cultural institu­ tions. In this regard, m y account o f the ‘birth o f the m useum ’ is one in which the focus on the relations betw een m useum s, fairs and exhibitions is meant to serve as a d evice for a broader historical argument w hose concern is a transformation in the arrangement o f the cultural field over the course o f the nineteenth century. These are the issues engaged with in the chapters com prising Part I. Three questions stand to the fore here. The first concerns the respects in w hich the public m useum exem p lified the d evelopm en t o f a new ‘g overn m en tal’ relation to culture in w hich works o f high culture were treated as instruments that could be enlisted in new w ays for new tasks o f social m anagem ent. This w ill in volve a consideration o f the manner in w hich the m useum , in providing a new setting for w orks o f culture, also functioned as a techn ological environm ent w hich allow ed cultural artefacts to be refashioned in w ays that w ould facilitate their deploym ent for new purposes as parts o f governm ental programmes aim ed at reshaping general norm s o f social behaviour. In being thus con ceived as instruments capable o f ‘liftin g ’ the cultural level 6


0 f the population, nineteenth-century m useum s w ere faced with a new r o b l e m : how to regulate the conduct o f their visitors. Sim ilar d ifficulties were faced by other nineteenth-century institutions w hose function required that they freely admit an undifferentiated m ass public: railw ays, exh ib itions, an d department stores, for exam ple. The problem s o f behaviour m anagem ent this posed drew forth a variety o f architectural and techn ological solutions which, w hile having their origins in specific institutions, often then migrated to others. The second strand o f an alysis in Part I thus con sid ers how t e c h n i q u e s o f behawour m anagem ent, developed in m useum s, exh ib itions, and department stores, were later incorporated in am usem ent parks w hose design aim ed to transform the fair into a sphere o f regulation. The third set o f questions focu ses on the space o f representation associated with the public museum and on the p olitics it generates. In The O rd er o f T hings, Foucault refers to the am biguous role played by the ‘em piricotranscendental doublet o f m an’ in the human scien ces: man functions as an o bject made visible by those scien ces w h ile also doubling as the su b je c t o f the know ledges they m ake available. Man, as Foucault puts it, ‘appears in his ambiguous position as an object o f k now ledge and as a subject that knows; enslaved sovereign, observed spectator’ (Foucault 1970: 312). The m useum , it will be argued, also constructs man (and the gendered form is, as w e shall see, historically appropriate) in a relation o f both subject and object to the know ledge it organizes. Its space o f representation, constituted in the relations betw een the d iscip lin es w hich organize the display fram eworks o f different types o f m useum (geology, archaeology, anthropology, e’tc), posits man - the outcom e o f evolution - as the object o f k now ledge. At the same time, this m ode o f representation constructs for the visitor a p osition o f achieved humanity, situated at the end a f evolutionary developm ent, from which m an’s developm ent, and the subsidiary evolutionary series it sub­ sumes, can be rendered intelligible. There is, however, a tension w ithin this space o f representation betw een the apparent universality o f the subject and object o f know ledge (man) which it constructs, and the alw ays so cia lly partial and particular ways in w hich this universality is realized and em bodied in museum displays. This tension, it w ill be su ggested , has supplied - and continues to supply - the d iscu rsive co-ordinates for the em ergen ce o f contemporary museum p olicies and p olitics oriented to securing parity o f representation for different groups and cultures w ithin the exhibitionary practices o f the museum .

It this demand constitutes one o f the distinctive aspects o f m odern political debates relating to the m useum , a second con sists in the now more or less normative requirement (although one m ore honoured in theory than in practice) that public m useum s should be equally a ccessib le to all section s o f e population. W hile this demand is partly inscribed in the conception o f the niodern m useum as a p u b lic m useum , its status has been, and rem ains, somewhat am bivalent. For it can be asserted in the form o f an expectation


that the m useum ’s benevolent and im proving influence ought, in the interests o f the state or society as a w hole, to reach all sections o f the population. Or it can be asserted as an in violab le cultural right w hich all citizen s ih a dem ocracy are entitled to claim . Som ething o f the tension betw een these two conceptions is visib le in the history o f m useum visitor statistics. Crude visitor statistics were available from as early as the 1830s, but only in a form which allow ed gross visitor numbers to be correlated with days o f the w eek or times o f the year. The earliest political use o f these figures w as to dem onstrate the increased numbers visitin g in the evenings, bank holidays and - when Sunday opening w as perm itted - Sundays. Reform ers like Francis Place and, later, Thom as G reenw ood seized on such figures as evidence o f the m useum ’s capacity to carry the im proving force o f culture to the working classes. This concern with m easuring the civ ilizin g influence o f the m useum is both related to and yet also distinct from a concern with im proving a ccess to m useum s on the grounds o f cultural rights - an issue w hich did not em erge until m uchlater when studies o f the dem ographic profiles o f m useum visitors dem on­ strated so cia lly differentiated patterns o f use. More to the point, perhaps, if developm ents in adjacent fields are anything to go by, is that pow erful id eological factors m ilitated against the acquisition o f inform ation o f this type. Edward Edwards, one o f the major figures in the public library m ovem ent in Britain, thus sternly chastized local public libraries for obtain­ ing inform ation regarding the occup ations o f their, users as bein g both unauthorized and irrelevant to their purpose.4 An adequate account o f the history o f m useum visitor studies has yet to be written. It seem s clear, however, that the developm ent o f clearly articulated dem ands for m aking m useum s a ccessib le to all sections o f the population has been clo sely related to the developm ent o f statistical surveys w hich have made visib le the social com position o f the visitin g public. The provenance o f such studies is, at the earliest, in the 1920s and, for the m ost part, belongs to the post-w ar period.5 B e this as it may, cultural rights principles are now strongly enshrined in relation to public m useum s and, although dependent on external m onitoring d evices for their im plem entation, they have clearly also been fuelled by the internal dynam ics o f the m useum form in its establishm ent o f a public space in w hich rights are supposed to be universal and un­ differentiated. T hese, then, are the m ain issues review ed in the first part o f this study. W hile each o f the three chapters grouped together here has som ething to say about each o f these questions, they differ in their stress and em phasis as w ell as in their angle o f theoretical approach. In the first chapter, ‘The Formation o f the M u seum ’, the primary theoretical co-ordinates are supplied by F oucault’s concept o f liberal governm ent. This is drawn on to outline the w ays in w hich m useum s form ed a part o f new strategies o f governing aimed at producing a citizenry w hich, rather than needing to be externally and coercively directed, w ould increasingly m onitor and regulate its own conduct.


the s e c o n d chapter, ‘The Exhibitionary C om p lex’, the stress falls rather F o u c a u l t ’s understanding o f d isciplinary pow er in its application to

00 eurns and on the w ays in which the insights this generates might usefully 111 moderated by the perspectives on the rhetorical strategies o f pow er bC eested by G ram sci’s theory o f hegem ony. The final chapter in Part I, ’The P o litical R ationality o f the M useum ’, look s prim arily to Foucault again, a lth ou gh to another aspect o f his work. Here, F oucault’s w ritings on the son are treated as a m odel for an account o f the respects in w hich many asp ects o f contem porary m useum p o licies and politics have been generated out o f the discursive Тю -ordinates w hich have governed the m u seu m ’s fo rm a tio n .

/T h e r e are, I have suggested, tw o d istinctive political demands that have been cenerated in relation to the m odern museum: the demand that there Should be parity o f representation for all groups and cultures w ithin the collecting, exhibition and conservation activities o f m useum s, and the demand that the m em bers o f all social groups should have equal practical as well theoretical rights o f access^ to m useum s. More detailed and specific e x a m p le s o f the kinds o f issu es generated by these political dem ands form the subject matter o f the second part o f this study. If, in Part I, m y concern is to trace the conditions w hich have allow ed m odern m useum p o licies and politics to em erge and take the shape that they have, the focus in the second part m oves to specific engagem ents with particular contem porary political and policy issues from w ithin the perspectives o f what I have called the m useum ’s ‘political rationality’. There is, however, a broadening o f focu s in this part o f the book in that my attention is no longer lim ited ex c lu siv e ly to public m useum s. In Chapter 4, ‘M useum s and “ the P e o p le ” ’, I con sid er the com peting and contradictory ways in which ‘the p eo p le’ might be represented in the display practices o f a broad variety o f different types o f m useum . For the purpose o f dem on­ strating som e effec tiv e contrasts, m y d iscu ssion here ranges across the romantic populism that is often associated with the open-air m useum form to the social-dem ocratic con ception s o f ‘the p eo p le’ w hich govern many contemporary Australian m useum installations. I also evaluate the more radical socialist and fem inist conceptions o f the form s in w hich ‘the p eo p le’ might m ost appropriately be represented by con sid erin g the exam p le o f G lasgow ’s peerless P eo p le’s Palace. The next chapter, ‘Out o f W hich P ast?’, broadens the scop e o f the discussion. It considers the respects in w hich the dem and for form s o f representing the past that are appropriate to the interests and valu es o f different groups in the com m unity can be extended beyond the public museum. This demand can encom pass heritage sites just as it can be applied о the picture o f the past that em erges from the entire array o f m useum s and the'ta^e S*tCS *П 3 Part*cu ^ar so c iety- In the final chapter in Part II, however, e ocus returns to the public m useum , esp ecially the public art gallery. 9


Drawing on the argum ents o f Pierre Bourdieu, ‘Art and Theory: The Politics o f the In v isib le’ explores the relationship betw een the display practices o f art galleries and the patterns o f their social usage. Art galleries, it is suggested remain the least publicly a ccessib le o f all public co llectin g institutions. This is largely because o f their continuing com m itm ent to display principles which entail that the order subtending the art on display rem ains in visib le and unintelligible to those not already equipped with the appropriate cultural sk ills. Such an entrenched p osition now seem s increasingly w ilful as notions ■ o f access and equity com e to perm eate all dom ains o f culture and to legitim ate public expenditure in such dom ains. In the final part o f the book, m y attention returns to m useum s, fairs and exh ib itions, and to the relations betw een them. T hese, however, are now broached from a different perspective. Here, I consider the different w ays in w hich, in their late nineteenth- and early tw entieth-century form ation, m useum s, fairs and exh ib ition s functioned as tech n o lo g ies o f progress. The notion is not a new one. Indeed, it w as quite com m on at the tim e for m useum s and the like to be referred to as ‘m achines for progress’. Such metaphors, I shall argue, were by no m eans m isplaced. V iew ed as cultural techn ologies w hich achieve their effec tiv e n e ss through the articulated com bination o f the representations, routines and regulations o f w hich they are com prised, m useum s, fairs and exh ib itions do indeed have a m ach ine-like aspect to their con ception and fun ction ing. The elaboration o f this argum ent, however, in volves a shift o f perspective. It requires that w e con sid er not m erely how progress is represented in each o f these institutions - for this is fairly fam iliar ground - but also the different w ays in w hich those representations were organized as perform ative resources w hich program m ed v isito r s’ behaviour as w ell as their cogn itive horizons. This w ill in volve v iew in g such repres­ entations o f progress as props w hich the visitor m ight u tiliz ^ fo r particular form s o f self-d evelopm en t - evolutionary ex ercises o f the s e lf - rather than so le ly as parts o f textual regim es w h ose influence is o f a rhetorical or id eological nature. Chapter 7, ‘M useum s and Progress: N arrative, Id eology, Perform ance’ opens the argum ent in review ing a variety o f the different w ays in w hich the layout o f late nineteenth-century natural history, eth n ology and anatomy collectio n s w as calculated so as to allow the visitor to retread the paths o f evolutionary developm ent w hich led from sim ple to more com plex form s o f life. This argum ent is exem plified by considering how the Pitt-R ivers typological system for the display o f ‘sa v a g e’ peoples and their artefacts constituted a ‘progressive m ach inery’ w hich, in seeking to prom ote progress, sought also to lim it and direct it. There then fo llo w s a consideration o f the respects in w hich the evolutionary narratives and itineraries o f nineteenthcentury m useum s were gendered in their structure as w ell as in the perform at­ iv e p o ssib ilities to which they gave rise. The next chapter, ‘The Shaping o f Things to Come: Expo ’88 ’, considers



form o f the international exhibition has developed to provide an h° W onrnent in which the visitor is invited to undertake an incessant updating e° m odernizing o f the self. In applying this perspective to B risbane’s Expo ° r nlt(his chapter also considers the w ays in which rhetorics o f progress bined with those o f the nation and o f the city to provide a com p lexly com nized environm ent that w as open to - indeed, d esign ed for - many Afferent kinds o f social perform ance. Finally, in Chapter 9, ‘A Thousand and One Troubles: Blackpool Pleasure B each ’, m y attention turns to the w ays in w hich rhetorics o f progress can saturate the environm ent o f a w hole town, but paying special regard to B lack p ool’s fair - the Pleasure Beach - where ro g ress is encoded into the pleasurable perform ances that the fairgoer is ex p e c te d to undertake. H owever, this detailed case-stu d y o f a modern a m u s e m e n t park serves a further purpose in graphically illustrating the re sp e cts in which the m odernization and stream lining o f pleasure associated w ith th e contem porary fair draw on the m odernizing rhetorics and techn o­ logies o f m useum s and exhibitions. This final chapter also introduces a qualification w hich it m ight be useful to mention at the outset. M y concern in this book is largely with m useum s, fairs and exh ib itions as en visaged in the plans and projections o f their advocates, designers, directors and m anagers. The degree to which such plans and projections were and are su ccessfu l in organizing and fram ing the experience o f the visitor or, to the contrary, the degree to w hich such planned effects are evaded, sid e-step ped or sim p ly not noticed raises different questions w hich, important though they are, I have not addressed here. I have already m entioned som e o f the theoretical sources I have drawn on in preparing this study.. The work o f Foucault, in its various form s and interpretations, has been important to m e as has been that o f G ram sci, although 1 have been aware - and have not sought to d isgu ise - the often awkward and uneasy tension that exists betw een these. It is perhaps worth adding that, as it has d eveloped, the tendency o f m y work in this area has inclined more towards the Foucaultian than the Gramscian paradigm. Pierre B ourdieu’s work has also been invaluable for the light it throws on the contradictory dynam ics o f the m useum , a n d ^ sp ecia lly the art gallery. W hile the gallery is theoretically a public institution open to all, it has typically been appropriated by ruling elites as a key sym bolic site for those performances o f ‘d istinction’ through w hich the co g n o sc e n ti differentiate them selves from ‘the m a sse s’. Jurgen H aberm as’s historical argum ents regarding the form ation o f the bourgeois public sphere have been helpful, too, although I have been careful to extricate these from H aberm as’s 'a ectical expectation that such a public sphere anticipates a more ideal speech situation into w hich history has yet to deliver us. Equally important, o - more so > have been the significant fem inist re-thinkings o f the notion e public sphere, and o f the public-private divide m ore generally, offered У oan Landes, Carole Pateman and Mary Ryan. Finally, K rzysztof P om ian’s



work has been helpful in su ggestin g how co llectio n s m ight u sefully be distinguished from one another in terms o f the different kinds o f contract they establish betw een the spheres o f the v isib le and in visib le. M y use o f this fairly diverse set o f theoretical resources has been largely pragmatic in orientation. W hile I have not sought to deny or repress important theoretical d ifferen ces w here these have been relevant to m y concerns resolving such questions has not been m y purpose in this book. For the m ost part, I have sim ply drawn selectiv ely on different aspects o f these theoretical traditions as has seem ed m ost appropriate in relation to the specific issues under d iscussion. For all that this is an academ ic book m otivated by a particular set of intellectual interests, I doubt that I should have finished it had I not had a fairly strong personal interest in its subject matter. W hile biographical factors are usually best left unsaid, there may be som e point, in this case, in dw elling briefly on the personal interests and investm ents which have helped to sustain m y interests in the issues this book explores. In T he S a c r e d G ro v e , D illon R ipley inform s the reader that his p hilosoph y o f m useum s was established when, at the age o f ten, he spent a winter in Paris: One o f the advantages o f playing in the Tuileries Gardens as a child was that at any one m om ent one could be riding the carousel, hoping against hope to catch the ring. The next instant one m ight be o ff wandering the paths am ong the chestnuts and the plane trees, looking for the old wom an w ho sold g a u fre s, those w onderful hot wafer-thin, w afflelik e creations dusted over with powdered sugar. A third instant in tim e, and there was the Punch and Judy show, mirror o f life, now com ic, now sad. Another m om ent and one could wander into one o f the galleries at the Louvre. . . . Then out to the garden again where there was a patch o f sand in a corner to build sand castles. Then back to the Louvre to wander through the Grand Gallery. (R ipley 1978: 140) The p hilosophy R ipley derived from this experience w as that there was, and should be, no essential d ifferen ces betw een the learning environm ent of the m useum and the w orld o f fun and gam es; one should be able to m ove naturally betw een the two. For a bourgeois boy, such an effortless transition betw een the m useum and a gentrified selection o f fairground pleasures would, no doubt, have proved p ossib le. My ow n experience - and I expect it is rather more typical - was different. For m e, the fair cam e before the m useum , and by a good m any years. And the fair in all its forms: the travelling fairs that set up cam p in L ancashire’s towns during their w ak es-w eek s holidays; M anchester’s permanent am usem ent park. B elle Vue, where my father taught me the w hite-knuckle art o f riding the bone-shaking Bobs; and B la ck p o o l’s Pleasure B each which I visited m any tim es as a child and as a teenager before returning to it later in life as an object o f study. W hen, in m y early adulthood. 12


I began to explore the world o f m useum s and art sa il™ • sense o f an effortless transition such as R ipley d " W3S П° Г With a contrary, part o f a cultural itinerary, travelled u /L eSCnbes; il w as, to the required a fam iliarity with a new h a b itu s in order to f S T “ re'UCtance’ which in such institutions. Equally, however, for the гея.™ i а"У Way at hom e to, going to fairs and'visiting m useum s or e x h i b i t i o n s ^ ^ ! « in som e wav related a c t i v i t y e alw ays struck me Writing this book, then has served as a m eans o f trying to account for the experience o f different but sim ilar’ which I still have when visiting either fairs or m useum s. Its am bition, however, is to explain these sim ilarities and differences in terms o f historical p rocesses o f cultural form ation rather than as than personal idiosyncracies.


¥ \\




In 1849, James Silk Buckingham , a prom inent English social reformer, ublishe'd a plan for a m odel town, j n extollin g the virtues o f his proposals he drew attention to their capacity to prepare all m em bers o f the com m unity for ‘a higher state o f existen ce, instead o f m erely vegetating like m illion s in the present state o f society, who are far less cared for, and far less happy, than the brutes that perish' (B uckingham 1849: 2 2 4 ). B uckingham was insistent, however, that such a transformation could be wrought so lely by the application of, as he called them, ‘practical rem ed ies’. It is worth quoting in full the passage in which he argues with h im self on this question: It is constantly contended that m ankind are not to be im proved by mere m echanical arrangem ents, and that their reform ation must first begin within. But there is surely no reason why both should not be called into operation. A person w ho is w ell fed , w ell clad, cheerfully because agreeably occupied, liv in g in a clean house, in an open and w ell ventilated Town, free from the intem perate, d isso lu te, and v icio u s associations o f our existin g cities and v illages - with ready a ccess to Libraries, Lectures, G alleries o f Art, Public W orship, with many objects of architectural beauty, fountains, statues, and colonn ades, around him, instead o f rags, filth, drunkenness, and prostitution, with blasphem ous oaths or dissolute conversation defiling his ears, w ould at least be more likely to be a ccessib le to moral sentim ents, generous fee lin g s, and religious and devout con victions and conduct, than in the teem ing hives ° f iniquity, with w hich m ost o f our large cities and towns abound. Inward regeneration w ill som etim es occur in spite o f all these ob stacles, and burst through every barrier, but these are the excep tions, and not the rules; and the conduct pursued by all good parents towards their i aren, in keeping them away as much as p ossib le from evil a sso c i­ ations, and surrounding them by the best exam p les and in centives to virtue, is sufficient proof o f the alm ost universal con viction, that the a^r?Umstances *П individuals are placed, and the kind o f training education they receive, have a great influence in the form ation o f 17


their character, and m aterially a ssist at least the developm ent o f the noblest faculties o f the mind and heart. (Buckingham 1849: 2 2 4 -5 ) The passage ech oes a characteristic trait o f late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century con ception s o f the tasks o f governm ent. In the formula, tions o f the scien ce o f p olice that were produced over this period, Foucault has argued, it was tfie fam ily that typically served as the m odel for a form of governm ent which, in concerning itse lf with ‘the w ealth and behaviour of each and a ll’, aspired to subject the population o f the state to ‘a form of surveillance and control as attentive qp that o f the head o f a fam ily over his h ousehold and his g o o d s’ (Foucault 1978: 92). ‘The P eo p le’, as Patrick C olquhoun put it, ‘are to the L egislature what a child is to a parent’ (Colquhoun 1796: 2 4 2 -3 ). Just as remarkable, however, is Buckingham ’s persistence in m aintaining that the exercise o f such surveillance and control need not be thought o f as any different in principle, w hen applied to the moral or cultural w ell being o f the population, from its application to the field of p hysical health. Both are a matter o f m aking the appropriate ‘mechanical arrangem ents’. Libraries, public lectures and art galleries thus present them selves as instrum ents capable o f im proving ‘m an’s ’ inner life just as well laid out spaces can im prove the p hysical health o f the population. If, in this way, culture is brought w ithin the province o f governm ent, its conception is on a par with other regions o f governm ent. The reform o f the s e lf - o f the inner life - is just as m uch dependent on the p rovision o f appropriate tech n ologies for this purpose as is the achievem ent o f desired ends in any other area o f social administration. There is no shortage o f schem es, plans and proposals cast in a sim ilar vein. In 1876, Benjam in Ward Richardson, in his plan for H ygeia, a city o f health, set h im self the task o f outlining sanitary arrangem ents that w ould result in ‘the co -ex isten ce o f the low est p ossib le general m ortality w ith the highest p ossib le individual lo n g ev ity ’ (R ichardson 1876: 11). How ever, he felt ob liged to break o f f from detailing these to advise the reader that his m odel town w ould, o f course, be ‘w ell furnished with baths, sw im m ing baths, Turkish baths, playgrounds, gym nasia, libraries, board sch o o ls, fine art sch ools, lecture halls, and places o f instructive am usem ent’ (ibid.: 39). The m useum ’s early historians had a sim ilar conception o f the m useum ’s place in the new schem es o f urban life. Thus, as Thom as G reenw ood saw it, ‘a M useum and Free Library are as necessary for the m ental and moral health o f the citizen s as good sanitary arrangem ents, water supply and street lighting are for their physical health and co m fo rt’ (G reenw ood 1888: 389). Indeed, for G reenw ood, these p rovisions tended to go hand-in-hand and could serve as an index o f the developm ent o f a sen se o f civ ic duty and self-reliance in different tow ns and cities. For it is, he says, no accident that the m u n i­ cipalities in which ‘the m ost has been done for the education o f the p eop le 18


the way o f Board S ch ools, M useum s, or Free Libraries’ should also either 1П « with ‘the best street lighting and street cleansing arrangem ents’ . be the ones (ibid - l 8 ^ . c m useum , as is w ell know n, acquired its m odern form during the ^ ^hteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The process o f its form ation l3te е1? com plex as it w as protracted, involvin g, m ost ob viou sly and imlv a transformation o f the practices o f earlier collectin g institutions me '|h e creative adaptation o f aspects o f other new institutions - the 311 national exhibition and the department store, for exam ple - which a" 6 loped alongside the m useum . H ow ever, the m u seu m ’s form ation w hether understood as a developm ental process or as an achieved form c a n n o t be adequately understood unless view ed in the light o f a more general set of developm ents through w hich culture, in com in g to be thought o f as useful for governing, was fashioned as a veh icle for the exercise o f new forms of power. « In what did this enlistm ent o f culture for the purposes o f governing consist? And how was the topography o f the sphere o f governm ent to w hich it gave rise organized? 1 On the one hand, culture - in so far as it referred to the habits, morals, manners and b eliefs o f the subordinate classes - was targeted as an object o f governm ent, as som ething in need o f both transform ation and regulation. This had clearly been view ed as a part o f the proper concern o f the state in earlier form ulations o f the functions o f p olice. In his T rea tise on the P olice o f the M etro p o lis, first published in 1795, Patrick C olquhoun had thus argued: And it is no inconsiderable feature in the scien ce o f P o lice to encourage, protect, and con trolsu ch as tend to innocent recreation, to preserve the good humour o f the Public, and to give the minds o f the people a right bias. . . . Since recreation is necessary to C ivilised Society, all Public Exhibitions should be rendered subservient to im provem ent o f m orals, and to the means o f infusing into the mind a love o f the C onstitution, and a reverence and respect for the Laws. . . . H ow superior this to the odious practice o f besotting them selves in A le houses, hatching seditious and treasonable d esign s, or en gaging in pursuits o f vilest profligacy, destructive to health and morals. (Colquhoun 1806: 3 4 7 -8 ) r is’ however, only later - in the m id to late nineteenth century - that the R a tio n s between culture and governm ent com e to be thought o f and ftgam zed in a d istinctively m odern w ay via th e^ on cep tio n that the works, taskT Г institutions ° f high culture m ight be enlisted for this governm ental was П ein 8.assi§ ned the purpose o f civ ilizin g the population as a w hole. It a concePr° Priately en ou gh ’ Jarnes Silk Buckingham w ho first introduced such in e a r ^ v ° n 0,C u ltu re’s role int0 the practical agendas o f reform ing politics У ictorian England. In the w ake o f the report o f the 1834 Select 19


C om m ittee on D runkenness, w hose establishm ent he had prompted and whic^ he had chaired, Buckingham brought three b ills before parliament proposin that local com m ittees be em pow ered to levy rates to establish w a lk s,’paths playgrounds, halls, theatres, libraries, m useum s and art galleries so as ‘to draw o f f by innocent pleasurable recreation and instruction, all w ho can be w eaned from habits o f drinking’ (B uckingham , cited in Turner 1934: 305) The b ills were not su ccessfu l, although the principles they enunciated were eventually adapted in the legislation through w hich, som e tw o decades liter local authorities were enabled to establish m unicipal m useum s and libraries What matters rather m ore, however, is the capacity that is attributed to high culture to so transform the inner liv es o f the population as to alter their form s o f life and behaviour. It is this that marks the distinction between earlier con ception s o f governm ent and the em erging notions o f liberal governm ent w hich B uckingham helped articulate. There is scarcely a glim­ mer o f this in C olquhoun’s understanding o f the m eans by w hich the morals and manners o f the population m ight be im proved. These, for Colquhoun, focu s on the need to increase the regulatory cap acities o f the state in relation to those sites and institutions in w hich refractory bodies m ight be expected to assem ble: public h ou ses, friend ly so c ietie s, and the sex-segregated asylum s and places o f industry provided for m en and w om en released from gaol with no em ploym ent. For Buckingham and other advocates o f ‘rational recreations’, by contrast, the capacity to effect an inner transformation that is attributed to culture reflects a different problem atic o f governm ent, one w hich, rather than increasing the form al regulatory pow ers o f the state, aims to ‘work at a d ista n ce’, achieving its ob jectives by inscribing these w ithin the selfactivating and self-regulating capacities o f individuals. For Colquhoun, the ale-house was a space to be regulated as clo sely as possible; for Buckingham, new form s o f governm ent proceeding by cultural m eans, w hile not obviating the need for such regulation, w ould go further in producing individuals who did not w a n t to besot them selves in ale-houses. It is, then, in the view o f high culture as a resource that m ight be used to regulate the field o f social behaviour in en d ow ing individuals with new capacities for self-m onitoring and self-regulation that the field o f culture and modern form s o f liberal governm ent m ost characteristically interrelate. This was what G eorge Brow n G oode, in elaborating his view o f m useum s as ‘p assion less reform ers’, was to refer to as ‘the modern M useum id ea ’ in his influential P rin c ip le s o f M useu m A d m in istra tio n (1895: 71). W hile this ‘idea had an international currency by the end o f the century, G oode attributed its conception to the role initially en visaged for m useum s by such mid-nineteenth century British cultural reform ers as Sir Henry C ole and R uskin.2 For Cole, for exam p le, the m useum w ould help the w orking man ch o o se a lde characterized by moral restraint as preferable to the tem ptations o f both bed and the ale-house: 20


w jsh to vanquish D runkenness and the D evil, make G od's day lf y° U elevating and refining to the working man; don’t leave him to o f r6hS t r e c r e a t i o n in bed first, and in the public house afterwards; attract filld '^church or chapel by the earnest and persuasive eloquence o f the llim 'her restrained with reasonable lim its ;. . . g iv e him m usic in w hich рГеаС v take his part; show him pictures o f beauty on the w alls o f h£ m hes and chapels; but, as w e cannot live in church or chapel all ChUday aive him his park to walk in, with m usic in the air; g iv e him * * cri'cket ground w hich the martyr, Latimer, advocated; open all museums o f Science and Art after the hours o f D ivin e service; let the working man get his refreshm ent there in com pany with his w ife and children, rather than leave him to b ooze away from them in the Public house and Gin Palace. The M useum w ill certainly lead him to w isdom a n d gentleness, and to H eaven, w hilst the latter w ill lead him to brutality and perdition. (C ole 1884, vol. 2: 368) Of course, and as this passage clearly indicates, m useum s were not alone in being summoned to the task o f the cultural governance o f the populace. To the contrary, they were envisaged as functioning alongside a veritable battery of new cultural technologies designed for this purpose. For G oode, libraries, parks and reading-room s were just as much ‘p assion less reform ers’ as museums. And if the form s and institutions o f high culture now found themselves embroiled in the processes o f governing - in the sense o f being called on to help form and shape the moral, mental and behaviourial characteristics o f the population - this w as, depending on the writer, with a plurality o f aims in view . M useum s m ight help lift the level o f popular taste and design; they might dim inish the appeal o f the tavern, thus increasing the sobriety and industriousness o f the populace; they m ight help prevent riot and sedition.3 W hichever the case, the em broilm ent o f the institutions and prac­ tices of high culture in such tasks entailed a profound transformation in their conception and in their relation to the exercise o f social and political power. This is not to say that, prior to their enlistm ent for governm ental pro­ grammes directed at civ iliz in g the population, such institutions had not a rea у been closely entangled in the organisation o f pow er and its exercise. У -600, as Roy Strong puts it, ‘the art o f festival was harnessed to the emergent modern state as an instrument o f ru le’ (Strong 1984: 19). And what m

true op

festival w as, or subsequently cam e to be, true o f court

teenfii65, feeatre> and m usical perform ances. By the late sevenwhich CentUry fe ese form ed parts o f^ n elaborate perform ance o f power with e'xhib^0r'3ert (1983) has show n, was concerned first and forem ost the wo Id аПС* т а 8п*1Узп§ royal pow er before to u t le m o n d e - that is, Secondaril °^, court*y so ciety - and then, although only indirectly and У’ ef ° re the populace. If culture w as thus caught up in the 21


sym bolization o f power, the principal role available to the popular class - and esp ecially so far as secular form s o f pow er were concerned - W6S as spectators o f a display o f pow er to which they remained external. T]pS was also true o f the position accorded them before the scaffold within ^ theatre o f punishm ent. The peop le, so far as their relations to high cultura form s were concerned, were m erely the w itnesses o f a pow er that was paraded before them. In these respects, then, high cultural practices form ed part o f an appafatu o f pow er w hose conception and functioning were juridico-discursive: that is as Foiicault defines it, o f a form o f pow er w hich, em anating from a central source (the sovereign), deployed a range o f legal and sym bolic resources in order to exact ob ed ien ce from the population.4 O ver the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, by contrast, these practices cam e to be inscribed in new m odalities for the exercise o f pow er w hich, at different tim es, Foucault has variously described as^lisciplinary or governm ental pow er.5 Tw o aspects o f these m odalities o f pow er are esp ecia lly worthy o f note from the point of view o f m y concerns here. First, unlike pow er in the juridico-discu rsive m ode, disciplinary or govern­ m ental pow er is not given over to a sin gle function. In his discussion of M achiavellian con ception s o f the art o f governing, Foucault thus argues that the prince constitutes a transcendental principle w hich g iv es to the state and governing a singular and circular function such that all acts are dedicated to the exercise o f sovereignty - to the m aintenance and extension o f the prince’s pow er - as an end itself: ‘the end o f sovereignty is the exercise o f sovereignty’ (Foucault 1978: 95). G overnm ental power, by contrast, is characterized by the m ultiplicity o f ob jectives which it pursues, ob jectives which have their ow n authorization and rationality rather than being derived from the interests o f som e unifying central principle o f pow er such as the sovereign or, in later form ulations, the state. W hereas in these form ulations the state or sovereign is its ow n finality, governm ental power, in taking as its object the conditions o f life o f individuals and populations, can be harnessed to the pursuit of differentiated ob jectives w hose authorization d erives from outside the selfserving political calculus o f juridico-discu rsive power. A s Foucault puts it, ‘the finality o f governm ent resides in the things it m anages and in the pursuit o f the perfection and intensification o f the p rocesses which it directs’ (ibid.: 95). N ineteenth-century reform ers thus typically sought to enlist high cultural practices for a diversity o f ends: as an antidote to drunkenness; an alternative to riot, or an instrum ent for c iv iliz in g the m orals and manners o f the population. W hile these uses were often clo sely co-ordinated with bourgeois class projects, their varied range stood in m arked contrast to the earlier com m itm ent o f high culture to the singular function o f m aking manifest or broadcasting the pow er o f the sovereign. S econd, however, and perhaps m ore important, governm ental power ain18 at a different kind o f effec tiv ity from pow er co n ceiv ed in the j u r i d i c ° 22


mode. The latter is ex ercised by m eans o f law s, ed icts and ^ supp0rted by whatever m eans o f enforcem ent the prince has promulgatl° " al G overnm ental power, however, typ ically works through at his dlSP]cu lation s and strategies w hich, em bodied in the program m es o f detailed ^ ch n ologies Qf governm ent, aim at m anipulating behaviour in d is c u r s iv e

speC' ^ d e s ire d directions. The ‘instrum ents o f governm ent,’ as Foucault puts

specihc e ^

b e-ng )aws> now com e to be a range o f m ultiform ta ctics’

it- ‘instea l 9 7 g. 9 5 ) _ and esp ecially o f tactics w hich, in aim ing at changed (Foucau ^ their outcorne, depend on a clo se relationship betw een the n m e n t o f the state and the governm ent o f the self. The critical g° Veiopments affecting the sphere o f culture in these regards concerned the _ which, o f course, was a relative rather than a total one - from a V n c e p tio n in which culture served pow er by em bodying, staging or repre­ senting it, m aking it spectacularly visib le. In p lace o f this, culture was increasingly thought o f as a resource to be used in program m es w hich aimed at brin g in g about changes in acceptable norms and form s o f behaviour and co n so lid atin g those norm s as self-actin g im peratives by inscribing them within bioadly dissem inated itg im e s o f self-m anagem ent. There are, in this sense, many sim ilarities betw een what was expected o f the cultural technologies m ost closely associated with this new m odality of power - the museum and the library, say - and the parallel reshaping o f the ends and means o f the power to punish. In D isc ip lin e a n d P u n ish (1977), Foucault argues that late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century penal reformers condemned the scaffold less on humanitarian grounds than because they perceived it as part o f a poor econom y o f power: poor because it was intermittent in its effects, aim ing to terrorize the population into obedience by means o f periodic representations o f the sovereign’s pow er to punish; poor because it lacked an effectiv e apparatus for apprehending law-breakers; and poor because it wasted bodies which m ight otherw ise be rendered useful. Advocacy o f the penitentiary as the primary form o f punishment was thus based on what seem ed to be its prom ise o f a more efficient exercise o f power: more efficient because it was calculated to transform the conduct o f inmates through the studied manipulation o f their behaviour in an environm ent built specifically for that purpose. More efficient also, to recall James Silk Buckingam, because - albeit via ‘mere technical arrangem ents’ - it aimed at an inner ^ransformation, at the production o f penitents with a built-in and ongoing pacity to monitor and hence curb their own tendency to wrong-doing:


g ove6 en *'Stment op ^ e institutions and practices o f high culture for ° f с и ? " 6" " ' PurPoses was sim ilarly aim ed at producing a better econom y theatr'1" ^ P° Wer‘ ^as been noted, festivals, royal entries, tournam ents, served as m eans (am ong other

^ i n g M f o 6^ 0™ 311068 and thC Hke had ali

Power b °f

Per'od'c ~ and henc,o interm ittent and irregular - display o f

re4uired at°aH ^ popu*a ce‘ Preser|ce o f the p eop le - w here it was a - was called for only in so far as the representation o f power 23


required that there be an audience b efore w hom such representations mi u 1 be displayed. Transform ations in the character, manners, m orals, or aptitu^ o f the population were rarely the point at issue w ithin such strategic of culture and power. The governm entalization o f culture, by contrast, aim p recisely at more enduring and lasting effects by using culture as a resour through w hich those exp osed to its influence w ould be led to o n g o i n g ^ p rogressively m odify their thoughts, feelin g s and behaviour. The inscription o f cultural form s and practices w ithin new te c h n o lo g y ' rather than in volvin g the population only interm ittently, aim ed at permanent and developm ental and regular and repeatable effects and thus involved significantly new econom y o f cultural power. This also offered the populace a more active and differentiated set o f roles than m erely as w itnesses of a sym bolic display o f pow er (although this remained important - and more so than F oucault’s form ulations often allow ). To the contrary, culture, in this new lo g ic, com prised a set o f exercises through w hich those exposed to its influence were to be transformed into the active bearers and practitioners of the capacity for self-im provem Snt that culture w as held to em body. Enlisting the ex istin g form s, practices and institutions o f high culture for such purposes, however, required that they be instrum entally refashioned, retooled for new purposes. N ineteenth-century cultural reform ers were resolutely clear-eyed about this. Culture, in its ex istin g form s, could not sim ply be made available and be exp ected to discharge its reform ing obligations o f its own and unaided. It needed to be fashioned for the tasks to which it was thus sum m oned and be put to work in new contexts sp ecia lly designed for those purposes. In the case o f m useum s, three issues stood to the fore. The first concerned the nature of~the m useum as a social space and the need to detach that space from its earlier private, restricted and so cia lly ex clu siv e form s o f sociality. The m useum had to be refashioned so that it might function as a space of em ulation in which civ iliz ed form s o f behaviour m ight be learnt and thus d iffused more w idely through the so cia l body. The second concerned the nature o f the m useum as a space o f representation. Rather than merely evoking w onder and surprise for the idly curious, the m useum ’s representa­ tions w ould so arrange and display natural and cultural artefacts as to secure ‘the utilisation o f these for the increase o f k now ledge and for the culture and enlightenm ent o f the p eo p le’ (G oode 1895: 3). ‘The m useum o f the past,’ as G oode put it in an 1889 lecture to the Brooklyn Institute, ‘must be set aside, reconstructed, transformed into a nursery o f liv in g thought’ (cited in Key 1973: 86). The third issue, by contrast, related more to the m useum ’s visitor than to its exhibits. It concerned the need to develop the m useum as a space o f observation and regulation in order that the v isito r’s body m ight be taken hold o f and be m oulded in accordance w ith the requirem ents o f new norms o f public conduct. In what fo llo w s, I shall consider each o f these issu es in turn. A l t h o u g h , 0 24



in which these matters w ere addressed differed from one .u p course. 111 tQ another, as they did also betw een different types o f national c° shaj] by and large, overlook such considerations in order to fliuseUin’ m’ost ob viou sly shared characteristics w hich distinguished identlfy ' seums from their predecessors. public m M U S E U M S A N D TH E P U B L IC S P H E R E

anization o f the social space o f the museum occurred alongside the The reorg role o f m useum s in the form ation o f the bourgeois public sphere,

^ ^ in stitu tio n s com prising this sphere had already partially detached high I ' al f o r m s and practices from their functions o f courtly display and ^ n n e c t e d th e m to new social and political purposes. If, under feudal and C° archical system s o f governm ent, art and culture form ed a part, as H a b erm a s p u ts it, o f the ‘representative p u b licn ess’ o f the lord or sovereign, the fo rm a tio n o f the bourgeois public sphere was clo sely bound up with the developm ent o f new institutions and practices which detached art and culture from that function and enlisted itrfor the cause o f social and political critique (H aberm as 1989). This helped prepare the ground for the subsequent view that the s p h e r e o f culture m ight be reorganized in accordance w ith a g ov ernm en tal logic. The picture Habermas paints o f the relations betw een different spheres o f social and political life and influence in late eighteenth-century European societies is, roughly, one characterized by a d ivision betw een the state and the court on the one hand and, on the other, civ il so ciety and the sphere o f private intimacy formed by the n ew ly constituted conjugal fam ily. M ediating the relations between these w as an array o f new literary, artistic and cultural institutions in which new form s o f assem bly, debate, critique and com m ent­ ary were developed. In the process, works o f art and literature were fashioned so as to serve as the veh icles for a reasoned critique o f the edicts o f the state. These institutions com prised, on the one hand, literary journals, philosophical and debating societies (som etim es with m useum s attached), and co ffe e ouses where the accent fell on the form ation o f opinions via a process o f rational exchange and debate. On the other, they also included the new cu tural markets (academ ies, art galleries, salons) w hich, in their separation ancT' 0t^ C0Urt anc* stale>allow ed the form ative bourgeois public to m eet « и / Ш гспс*ег'п 8 itself visu ally present to itself, acquire a degree o f corporate self-consciousness 6 The Consiste(jUCIa* C*'SCUrs've even ts accom panying these institutional changes which H- h'1 t*1C еаг'У form ation o f art and literary criticism , a develbpm ent the latte^ f.rmaS 'n turn attributes to the com m odification o f culture. For if °nly b; : , am 0Wed cu 'tura* products to be m ade generally available, it did so traditior|S1Ih U^itaneously detaching those products from their anchorage in a lc Previously vouchsafed their m eaning. A s works o f culture * 25



no longer derived their m eaning from their place within an authoritatjv tradition em anating from the monarch (or church), the process o f arriving 6 a m eaning and a value for cultural products w as a task which boum'eoat consum ers had now to undertake for th em selves, both individually and -S debate, in collaboration with one another. They were assisted in ji^la however, by the n ew ly flourishing genres o f cultural criticism and comment ary through w hich questions o f aesthetic m eaning and judgem ent came form parts o f a proto-political process whereby acts o f state were subjected to reasoned debate and criticism .7 For Habermas, o f course, this critical deploym ent o f art and culture served as an ideal-—albeit an im perfectly realized one - in w hose name the subsequent developm ent o f the debased public sphere o f m ass culture could be castigated for the loss o f the critical function for culture w hich it entailed. There are however, other w ays o f construing the matter. In his reflections on the role of technology in cultural production, Benjam in argued that the development of m ass reproduction played a crucial role in p oliticizin g art to the degree that in depriving the work o f art erf its aura and thus detaching it from the singular function and identity associated with it em beddedness in tradition, its meaning could b ecom e an object o f political contestation (Benjam in 1936). The argument is a fam iliar one within the Frankfurt tradition up to and including Habermas, albeit that the responsibility for freeing art from the restraints of tradition may be variously attributed to technology, the market, criticism, or all three. B y the sam e token, the sam e conditions, in freeing high cultural form s from their earlier juridico-discursive form s o f deploym ent, also made it p ossib le for them to be thought o f as useful for governing. H owever, this required that the con d itions regulating culture’s social deploym ent w ithin the bourgeois public sphere should them selves be trans­ form ed. So far as the m useum was concerned, tw o matters stand to the fore here. The first concerns the reversal o f the tendency towards separation and social ex clu siv en ess w hich had characterized the earlier form ation of the bourgeois public sphere. It w ill be helpful to consider this issue in the light o f a longer historical perspective. It is true, o f course, that the secular co llec tin g practices o f European princes and monarchs in the post-R enaissance period had not usually played a major role in sym b olizin g the m onarch’s pow er b efore and to the popular classes. ‘It is,’ as Gerard Turner puts it, ‘part o f the exercise and maintenance o f any leader’s pow er to ensure that his im age is constantly before the people w ho count.’ A s he continues, however, in the past ‘this has not, o f course, been the m ass o f the population, but rather the ruler’s im m ediate supporters, the courtiers and nobility, and his rivals in other sta tes’ (Turner 1985: 214)' O bviously, there were excep tions and, in the course o f the eighteenth century, these tended to m ultiply as a number o f royal co llectio n s were made publicly a ccessib le, usually as parts o f statist con ception s o f popular instructionEven so, w e should not m istake these for exam ples o f the public museum 26


in that the form o f pow er they instanced and exercised was aVant la ^ ^ ridico-d iscu rsive rather than governm ental. Thus w hen, in still clear 0 f Francesco I de M edici was transferred into the new 1584, the со cont£Xt o f the u ffiz i G allery, this was in response to the need and mote P“ .m atio0 o f the M edici dynasty, a need w hich, as G uiseppe for public ■:meant that (he g iorifiCation o f the prince, the celebration o f his ОШп puts l , er o f hjs farnjiy had constantly to be exposed to the eyes deed|S nd to be im pressed on the mind o f every su bject’ (O lm i 1985: 10). °f he main, however, collection s o f valued objects form ed a part o f the 1П 1 ^accessories o f pow er in contexts in which it was the organization and CUl'UrJission o f power w ithin and betw een ruling strata rather than the display 'ranS wer before the populace that was the point at issue. C onsequently, few coUections were accessible to the popular classes; and, in som e cases, those who mieht be admitted to view princely collection s were so few that they symbolized not so much the pow er to am ass artefacts which m ight be impressively displayed to others as the pow er to reserve valued objects for private and exclu sive inspection (see S eelig 1985). Museums continued to be characterized by sim ilar kinds o f ex clu siv en ess during the period o f their articulation to the institutions com prising the bourgeois public sphere. For, whether they were older m useum s annexed to the public sphere or new ones built in association with literary, debating, scientific or philosophical societies, a ccess to them continued to be so cia lly restricted.8 Habermas touches on these matters in his com m ents concerning the class and gender characteristics o f the institutions com prising the bourgeois public sphere. H is concern in d oing so, however, is largely to point to the conflict between the theoretical com m itm ent to the universalist and equitably dialogic principles o f discourse w hich characterized these institu­ tions and their practical lim itation to m iddle-class men as a m eans o f retaining the view that such discursive norms m ight yet be realized in a more ideal speech situation. As Stallybrass and W hite have su ggested , however, the social lo g ic o f the ourgeois public sphere is not adequately understood if attention fo cu ses so ely on its discursive properties. The institutions com prising this sphere ^ere characterized not m erely by their subscription to certain rules o f chaCr°UrSe ^ reec^om

sPe e ch, the rule o f reason, etc.). They were also

Places'T '26^ ^ ^ е 'Г Proscr'Pt'on ° f cod es o f behaviour associated with spittin ° '3° pu*ar assernbly-fairs, taverns, inns and so forth. N o sw earing, no these ru le ° ^raw^’n®’ no eating or drinking, no dirty footwear, no gam bling: 'es, muse^ w ’t*1 variations, characterized literary and debating societ‘pan 0f- . ^ S’ 3nd c o t,e e "houses also, as Stallybrass and W hite put it, form ed c°sm opolita° h61-3*1 Strate®y exp u lsion which clears a space for polite, the dirty and 'SC0Urse constructing popular culture as the “ low -O th er”, ^ h ite 1986- 87^ ° ou ts'^e to the em ergent public sp h ere’ (Stallybrass and % 27


The construction o f the public sphere as one o f p olite and ratio discourse, in other words, required the construction o f a negatively C0(1 other sphere - that com prised o f p laces o f popular assem bly - from which • m ight be differentiated. If the institutions o f the public sphere cornpris places in which its m em bers could assem ble and, indeed, recognize theirf selves as belonging to the same public, this was only because o f the rule w hich excluded participation by those w ho - in their bodily appearances and manners - were v isib ly d ifferent.9 The m id-nineteenth-century reconceptualization o f m useum s as cultural resources'that m ight be deployed as governm ental instruments involving the w hole population thus entailed a significant revaluation o f earlier cultural strategies. In the earlier phase, the rules and proscriptions governing attend­ ance at m useum s had served to distinguish the bourgeois public from the rough and raucous manners o f the general populace by exclu din g the latter By contrast, the m u seu m ’s new con ception as an instrument o f public instruction en visaged it as, ir? its new op en ness, an exem plary space in which the rough and raucous m ight learn to c iv iliz e them selves by m odelling their conduct on the m idd le-class cod es o f behaviour to w hich m useum attendance w ould exp ose them. The m useum , in its Enlightenm ent conception, had, of course, alw ays been an exem plary space, and con stitutively so. A s Anthony V idler argues, the didactic function attributed to it meant that the objects it housed were invested with an exem plary status (V idler 1987: 1 6 5 -7 ). To be rendered serviceable as a governm ental instrument, then, the public museum attached to this exem plary didacticism o f objects an exem plary didacticism o f personages in arranging for a regulated com m ingling o f cla sses such that the subordinate cla sses m ight learn, by im itation, the appropriate forms of dress and com portm ent exhibited by their social superiors. This, at least, w as the theory. In practice, m useum s, and especially art galleries, have often been effec tiv e ly appropriated by social elites so that, rather than functioning as institutions o f h om ogenization, as reforming thought had en visaged , they have continued to play a significant role in differentiating elite from popular so cia l cla sses. Or perhaps it w ould be better to say that the m useum is neither sim p ly a h om ogen izin g nor simply a d ifferentiating institution: its socia l fun ction ing, rather, is defined by the contradictory pulls betw een these tw o tendencies. Yet, how ever imperfectly it may have been realized in practice, the conception o f the m useum as an institution in w hich the working cla sses - provided they dressed nicely and curbed any tendency towards unseem ly conduct - might be exposed to the im proving influence o f the m iddle cla sses was crucial to its construction as a new kind o f social space. There was also a gendered aspect to this refashioning o f the so cia l space o f the m useum . Joan Landes (1988 ) and D enise R iley (1988) have demon strated the respects in w hich, in France and Britain respectively, the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries w itnessed a deep and f a r - r e a c h i n g 28


f w o m e n ’s involvem ent in public and political life and a parallel reduction 01 o f fem ininity in which w om en were made to em body a n a tu ra li^ 10^ ' conception o f the natural.10 In R iley ’s argument, this natural£ousseaue^ ornen preparecl the g roun(j f0 r the subsequent em ergence o f the Ration 0 0f population m anagement in which the naturalized virtues of social as * ^ accorded a key role in redressing social problems identified the felT""1tnheeir provenance in the conditions (housing, hygiene, m orality, etc.) ashaVingfamily life- ‘This new production o f “ the so c ia l’” , as R iley puts it, affecting^ magnificent OCcasion for the rehabilitation o f “ w om en”. In its very (T 2 conceptions, it was fem inised; in its detail, it provided the chances |оиПо т е women to enter upon the work o f restoring other, more damaged, f°omen to a newly con ceived sphere o f grace’ (R iley 1988: 48). W°The consequences o f w om en’s naturalization for the cultural sphere were somewhat similar. In an important reappraisal o f H aberm as’s conception o f the public sphere, Joan Landes, with the French context primarily in mind, views wom en’s exclusion from this sphere as part o f a cultural-political tactic that ‘promised to reverse the sp oiled civilisation o f le m o n d e w here stylish women held sway and to return to m en the sovereign rights usurped by an absolutist monarch’ (Landes 1992: 56). The redefinition o f fem ininity that accompanied this process in associatin g w om en with the spheres o f the natural and the dom estic, and with the functions o f nurturing and growth, prepared the way for a redefinition o f w om en ’s role in the cultural sphere. Women no longer appeared as the dom ineering m istresses o f the world o f salons but, rather, in the gu ise o f cu lture’s gentle handm aidens. It was, then, just as important that, in their new conception as public institutions, museums were equally accessib le to m en and w om en. This had not always been so, and even where w om en had been admitted, their presence was not always w elcom ed. An eighteenth-century German visitor to the Ashmolean Museum thus com plained that ‘even the w om en are allow ed up here for sixpence: they run here and there, grabbing at everything and taking no rebutt from the S u b -C u sto s’ (cited in M acGregor 1983: 62). By the early nineteenth century, however, w om en were perm itted - and som etim es encouraged - to attend m useum s in a way that distinguished this com ponent liter-S k ° UrHe o 's public sphere from the co ffee -h o u se s, acad em ies, and this^1^^.^111^ C*e ^at*n§ so cieties which were still largely reserved for men. In ° f p u b l^ ' museums belonged, as Linda M ahood has show n, to a select range from thc'C C° ntexts (Parks, shopping arcades) w hich, in being differentiated PopulUnre8Ulated sexua^com m ingling associated with fairs and other sites ассощр. Г Г т Ы У’ resPe c table w om en were able to attend - but only if It Was y ^ е 'г m enfolk or if chaperoned (M ahood 1990). st°re that Г УеГ' W't^‘n the com m ercially provided space o f the department sPace (see р ^ т ? П ^ouncl their first custom -built, sin g le-sex , urban public hePartrnent D esigned m ainly by men but with w om en in mind, ores allow ed women to enjoy the am enities o f urban sociability »



w ithout being threatened by the disturbing sights o f the street scene which 1 had form ed a part o f the scopic pleasures o f the m ale fla n e u r and wjth0 courting the associations that were attached to w om en w ho frequented к* public world o f m ale pleasure. The department store, as Judith W alko • 6 puts it, offered a space in w hich ‘w om en safely reim agined them selves * fla n e u rs, ob serving w ithout being o b serv ed ’ (W alkow itz 1992: 48) g 3s it w as more than that. In putting aside spaces reserved ex clu siv ely for worne the department store provided an en clave within w hich w om en could ‘mimj the arts o f urban m ingling without incurring the risks o f the world outside' (Ryan 1990: 76). It also created a precedent w hich public authorities were not slow to follow in providing special places for w om en in public places and institutions: special reading-room s in public libraries; special compartments for w om en on ferries; w om en’s room s in city halls and post offices. The con seq u en ce w as the organization o f an urban space w hich had been ‘sa n itized ’ through the provision o f locales in which respectable women could recreate them selves in public free from fear that their sensibilities m ight be assaulted or their conduct be m isinterpreted. This, in turn, paved the w ay for the c iv iliz in g strategy o f attracting m en away from places of raucous m ale assem bly and ushering them ‘into public spaces that had been sanitised by the presence o f w om en ’ (ibid.: 79). It is in the light o f these broader changes that w e need to consider the role played by gender in the constitution o f the space o f the public museum. For, in so far as it w as en visaged as a reform atory o f manners, the complex relations betw een the cross-class and cross-gender form s o f com m ingling the m useum allow ed for are crucial to an understanding o f the types of behaviourial reform ations it was to effec t and o f the m eans by which it was to do so. The m ost interesting developm ent here con sisted in the organization o f a role for the w orking-class w om an as a m ediating agent helping to pass on the im proving influence o f m idd le-class culture to the recalcitrant workingclass man. Consideration o f the parallel and com plem entary strategies o f class regu­ lation associated with department stores w ill help both to make the point and to underline the sp ecificity o f the m useum ’s aim s and practices in this regard. The sim ilarities betw een the m useum and the department store have often been n o te d .11 Both were form ally open spaces allow in g entry to the general public, and both were intended to function as spaces o f em ulation, places for m im etic practices w hereby im proving tastes, values and norms o f conduct were to be more broadly diffused through society. The B on M a rch e in ParlS thus offered, as M ichael M iller puts it, ‘a vision o f a bourgeois life-style that becam e a m odel for others to f o llo w ’ (M iller 1981: 183). This was, in Partl a function o f the good s on sale. In offering a version o f the lifestyle of the Parisian h a u te -b o u rg e o isie that w as w ithin the reach o f the m iddle classes and that the upper ech elon s o f the working cla sses could aspire to, the B °n M arch e served as an important instrument o f social hom ogenization at the 30



and dom estic decor. However, the influence o f the department leVe l s ° f dreuSrSther than this. In the person o f the sales assistant it supplied a store went J1 j transform ed appearances and conduct on which the socially

|iving T m ieht m odel them selves. aspirant 6 ^ a delicate matter, it w as also very m uch a gendered matter Y e '.l f ' sales assistant was typically fem ale, so, too, was the customer, too. F°r 1 B enson’s exam ination o f the relations betw een gender and S u sa n P°!. partment stores tellingly describes the com p lex dialectic between power in ^ (hat was played out in the relations betw een sales assistants c l a s s an ge B enson 1979, 1988). Much as w as true o f the m useum , j

{’ ll S t O n 'l c i a

аП i . ' rtment store w as subject to contradictory im peratives. On the one the /^ n e e d e d to mark itself o ff from the rough and the vulgar as a zone o f 1 vity and privilege if it were to retain the custom o f bourgeois wom en. On the other hand, it needed to reach a broader buying public - partly in order realize appropriate econ om ies o f scale in its operations but also as a necessary means o f influencing popular tastes, values and behaviour. W hile there were many different w ays in w hich these tensions were m anaged,12 the point at which they were m ost acutely m anifest was in the groom ing o f the sales assistant who, in being typftally recruited from the store’s local workingclass environs, needed her rough ed ges sm oothing in order to be rendered ‘fit to s e r v e ’ the bourgeois c lie n te le .13 Yet it was equally important that this grooming should not be carried too far. Should her dress and dem eanour become too refined, the sales assistant w ould threaten that distinction betw een herself and her custom er on which the latter’s sense o f her own superiority depended. Equally, though, the sales assistant did have to be distanced from her class o f origin sufficiently for her to em body higher standards on which the aspirant w orking-class custom er m ight m odel herself. As a consequence o f the need to balance these com peting requirem ents, the body and person o f the sales assistant were targeted for quite intense and detailed regulation. In part, it was en visaged that, just as she w ould com e to constitute a model for the w orking-class customer, so the sales girl would erself simply learn new w ays from observing the behaviour o f both her supervisors and those o f her custom ers w ho were o f higher social position. how*6 natUral c 'v 'l'z 'ng effects o f the department store environm ent, lessons^ Were augm ented by active civ iliz in g program m es 'о асаS Ш *1^ ' cn e’ et'quette and grammar; visits to m useum s and art galleries 'through pr'n°'P*es op taste; 'he provision o f w ell-stock ed reading rooms as a livf W 'C*1 sa^es assistant was groom ed both to serve and to function 11 then tte/ it'm ony cultural im provem ent, were direct1 ^ c 'vd lzin g programmes associated with the department store Hineteenth^ ^ Ша'п1У at w om en, there is little doubt that, in the midreforming intent*^context, the primary target o f the m u seu m ’s h Was the w^ ^ vvor* Flow er goes on to describe the process through w hich, ideally, the a m ent o f that part o f a m useum intended for public instruction sho i arrived at: u d be First, as I said before, you m ust have your curator. He must careful] con sid er the object o f the m useum , the cla ss and capacities of the persons for w hose instruction it is founded, and the space available t0 carry out this object. He w ill then divide the subject to be illustrated' into groups, and consider their relative proportions, according to which he w ill plan out the space. Large labels w ill next be prepared for the principal headings, as the chapters o f a book, and sm aller ones for the various subd ivisions. Certain propositions to be illustrated, either in the structure, classification , geographical distribution, g eo lo g ica l position, habits, or evolution o f the subjects dealt w ith, w ill be laid down and reduced to definite and con cise language. L astly w ill com e the illus­ trative sp ecim ens, each o f w hich as procured and prepared w ill fall into its appropriate place. (Flow er 1898: 18) The m ain point to note here is less that the object com es last but that, in doing so, its function and place is drastically altered to the extent that its status is now that o f an illustration o f certain general law s or tendencies. The im plications o f this new status are clearly identified as Flow er proceeds to argue both the need for, and the p ossib ility of, sparsity in the display of sp ecim ens so that the v isito r s’ attention should not be distracted by the proliferation o f objects on display. This new representational principle of sparsity, however, is possib le only on the condition that the object displayed is view ed as representative o f other objects fallin g w ithin the same class. This contrasts m arkedly with the principles o f curiosity w hich, since objects are valued for their uniqueness, and sin ce, therefore, no object can stand in another, can assign no lim its to the potentially en d less proliferation of object w hich they m ight contain. But the principle o f sparsity is, at the sam e tim e, a principle o f legibibb .„ . . . . ... . is, I*1 and o f public legibility. If the m useum object is an illustration, js F lo w er’s schem e, no room for am biguity regarding its meaning,(S already vouchsafed for it by the evolutionary narratives w hich assign place - narratives w hich, ideally, govern the perform ative as well representational aspects o f the m useum ’s environm ent. Thus, in outlining j 42



natural history m useum , Flow er visu alizes a representathat is, at the sam e tim e, a perform ative one or, better, a Potial arran^enie"t is realized in and through its perform ance. His plan, an ‘'epresentati°n e that J a m e s B o g a r d u s h a d e a r l i e r p r o p o s e d fo r a w o r l d ’s fa ir adaptation0t ^967-" 19.9), c o n s i s t e d o f a s e r ie s o f g a l l e r i e s a r r a n g e d in the ee Giedion

w i t h i n th e o th e r , a n d c o m m u n i c a t i n g at f r e q u e n t

form of circles, ■ cle w o u ld represent an ep och in the w orld ’s history, com Each circ centre an