The Thickness of the World: Exploring the Curriculum of Museums through Phenomenological Touch

Elizabeth Wood, Kiersten F. Latham

Abstract


Museums are places where material culture and specimens from nature provide opportunities to help visitors understand the lifeworld-sometimes of the ordinary, sometimes extraordinary, but always within the context of relationships to people, places and time. The encounter with museum objects provides the visitor with the range of possible human experiences, a personal sense of the life of another as it was lived, or simply provides access to the vital and fundamental aspects of being human-a phenomenological museum curriculum. Yet, despite the prospect of being a multi-sensory milieu, museums offer a peculiar provocation to the senses: don't touch. By framing the considerations of the need for touch within the museum, our intent is to explore the ideas of materiality, haptic touch, and the person-object transaction and its place within the museum curriculum. We apply these concepts to the idea of phenomenological touch in the museum setting as a new orientation for meaningful person-object transactions.

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JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing, and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

The journal is published by the Foundation for Curriculum Theory and is associated with the Bergamo Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice, held in the autumn of each year. JCT is indexed in The Education Index.

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ISSN: 1942-2563