A New Keyword in the Museum: Exhibiting the Anthropocene

Lotte Isager, Line Vestergaard Knudsen, Ida Theilade


Since 2000, the concept of the Anthropocene has moved from its geologic field of origin into numerous other academic disciplines and into the world of museums. Based on journal papers, exhibition reviews and online material, this paper describes 41 exhibitions about the Anthropocene, analyzes how museums and galleries understand the Anthropocene, and how they use exhibition media as well as their authority as museums in dealing with this topic. It is argued that exhibitions generally display the Anthropocene as an unsettled category. Audiences are presented with complex factual accounts and highly emotional images of the past and the future. They are invited to reflect upon the Anthropocene not as a well-defined issue but as heritage in the sense of ‘transformable practices’ (Harrison 2015: 34). However, most exhibitions appear to deliberately exclude significant controversies about the Anthropocene and the predicament of the world from their arenas for reflection.


anthropocene; museum; heritage; future assembling

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/mas.v19i1.3585

Copyright (c) 2021 Line Vestergaard Knudsen

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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