The Meaning of Objects

“By making meaning of objects, people in museums are actually developing—and sometimes even changing—meanings and aspects of themselves, their relationships, and the society in which they live.”

–Lois Silverman, The Social Work of Museums

How should we look at an object on display? When do everyday things become meaningful? Objects, in and of themselves, are neutral. We give objects meaning by projecting our own memories, emotions or perspectives onto them. Those meanings change over time. In the upcoming exhibition, Controversy: Pieces You Don’t Normally See, objects will be presented that have complex and unique stories. As objects gain or lose meaning over time, what do they tell us about ourselves?

Museum curators preserve the stories that are associated with the objects in the collection. Should we tell you what we think they mean? What object would you put on display? Tell us what you think!

This entry was posted in collections, Controversy Exhibition, Curators, Exhibits. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Meaning of Objects

  1. Lisa Rickey says:

    I think objects become meaningful when they are connected to a person or event that is “important”, either to you or to society/history. As far as telling us what the objects in the museum “mean,” I think it’s definitely helpful and interesting to be told why the object is in the collection. There must be a reason, or else it wouldn’t be there.

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