Re-negotiating Exhibitionary Practices and the "Digital" Politics of Display: The Case of the MTL Urban Museum App

Ana-Maria Herman

Abstract


In this paper, I employ a sociotechnical approach (drawn from science and technology studies) to reconstruct how the McCord Museum’s MTL Urban Museum App was re-made. I take into account both the social and the technical, and consider the human and the nonhuman, which allows me to chart the roles of heterogeneous actors in re-making the App and in re-negotiating the Museum’s display practices. In doing so, I explore and point to the politics of this 'digital' display:  What actors were involved in its re-making? How did they participate in decision-making processes? What are the implications of the negotiations made? The analysis reveals: 1) how the re-making of the App redistributed tasks associated with exhibitionary practices by displacing them across unexpected actors both inside and outside the Museum, 2) how some aspects of design can become ‘non-negotiable’ or ‘irreversible’, and 3) how the re-negotiation of display practices established unanticipated ‘gatekeepers’ in the Museum’s display practice. Thus, this study sheds light on a “digital” case of the ‘politics of display’ (Macdonald, 1998).

 


Keywords


actor-network theory; exhibitionary practices; museum apps; politics of display

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Copyright (c) 2018 Ana-Maria Herman

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360