Embodied discourse in the bourgeois museum: performative spaces at the Ordrupgaard collection

Rasmus Kjærboe

Abstract


In a suburb just north of Copenhagen is Ordrupgaard. At the inauguration in 1918, it was arguably the best collection of impressionism open to the public outside France and the USA. This paper has two goals: First, to reconstruct and analyze the important yet little known original exhibition ensemble at Ordrupgaard, and second, to develop a view of the bourgeois art exhibition as a performative ritual. Building on ideas of exhibition narratives and visitor involvement derived from diverse work done within museology and museum studies, the paper proposes a close examination of how collective memory and performative embodiment drive exhibition experience. From this, Ordrupgaard emerges as an early example of a museum that offers its audience the possibility of a pleasurable enactment of middle class identity within a setting encompassing nature, art and architecture. The case of a small collection museum therefore reveals important mechanics at work within a potentially much larger field of institutions.


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Copyright (c) 2015 Rasmus Kjærboe

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360