De-scripting a Museum’s Presence and Atmosphere: An Exhibition Experiment

Theis Vallø Madsen


The aim of this article is to study ways of highlighting presence and atmosphere in a concrete museum setting by means of H.U. Gumbrecht’s presence theory, Gernot Böhme’s definition of atmosphere and Madeleine Akrich’s and Bruno Latour’s script theory. The article is based on an exhibition experiment conducted at Faaborg Museum in Denmark where an artwork was exhibited in a temporary room with a door inviting visitors to enter one by one. The experiment was an attempt to highlight presence and atmosphere by de-scripting the museum’s script. Twenty-one qualitative visitor interviews show that the enclosure was successful in turning the visitors’ attention to the atmosphere of the museum space and the artwork itself. A significant number of visitors described in their own words their experience as a state of presence and these experiences were closely linked with the physical and social space of the museum.


Script, presence, atmosphere, Gesamtkunstwerk, social space

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Copyright (c) 2019 Theis Vallø Madsen

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360