Slowing Time in the Museum in a Period of Rapid Extinction

Dolly Jørgensen, Libby Robin, Marie-Theres Fojuth


Extinction of nonhuman species, as well as human-induced environmental change in general, is happening at a frighteningly fast pace. A recent global joint scientific assessment suggests that around a million animal and plant species are currently threatened with extinction because of human activity. In this article, we propose that museums have an opportunity to slow time for their visitors in a period of rapid extinction. First, we discuss the role of museums as galleries for active reflection and encounter with the loss inherent in extinction by changing the time scales in which people think and move. Then we introduce the articles in this themed issue on Exhibiting Extinction as all grappling with the tension between fast environmental loss and taking the necessary time to reckon with extinction. Time functions on another scale when extinction is involved, with the jumbling of past, present, and future. We argue that offering ways for people to think about and with extinction by slowing down time may be museums’ greatest contribution to addressing the real and present danger of extinction.


extinction; natural history; taxidermy; time

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Copyright (c) 2022 Dolly Jørgensen, Libby Robin

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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