The Art Gallery and its Audience: Reflecting on Scale and Spatiality in Practice and Theory

Sarah Harvey Richardson


This paper explores scale and spatiality in the practice and theory of the art gallery. Through the example of Des Hughes: Stretch Out and Wait, an exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield, I unpick the construction of scaled notions such as ‘local’, ‘(inter)national’ and ‘community’, in particular, a ‘local’ versus‘(inter)national’ binary; and explore how we may seek alternatives to such hierarchized thinking and practice. By testing and developing Kevin Hetherington’s approach of analyzing the topological character of the spaces of the museum (1997), I treat the space of Des Hughesas one which is complex, contingent and folded around certain objects on display. In so doing, this paper argues that scale and spatiality should not only be attended to as a subject of study for museums, galleries and heritage; but that they can also form a useful methodological lens through which productive alternatives for the knowledge and practice of these organizations may be explored.


Art Gallery; scale; spatiality; material semiotics; topology

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Copyright (c) 2018 Sarah Harvey Richardson

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360