Assembling the New: Studying Change Through the ‘Mundane’ in the Museum as Organization

Jennie Morgan


Change is highly valued within the museum sector and related literatures. Despite this emphasis, it is claimed that the field struggles to adequately understand and explain change processes, and that new critical and methodological tools are needed to move discussion forward (Peacock 2013). This paper offers one possible route by developing an anthropologically informed, ethnographic approach to studying the museum as organization. Illustrated through selected empirical materials from the case of the refurbishment of the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow, the paper focuses on a period immediately following this major capital project. It argues that change is implemented and sustained by the many different players and practices constituting the inner life-worlds of museums as organizations. By analysing the mediatory capacities of, what in some frameworks might be considered, ‘mundane’ everyday activities (such as maintenance work and tour-guiding) the paper seeks to expand understandings of what shapes the dynamics of change in museums.


Change; everyday practice; organization; ethnography; Kelvingrove

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Copyright (c) 2018 Jennie Morgan

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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