Museum Texts: Intentionality and Acceptability

Min-Hsiu Liao
March 2012
International Journal of the Arts in Society;2011, Vol. 6 Issue 2, p99
Academic Journal
Museum visitors interested to know more about the displayed objects often seek information from verbal messages, such as labels or audio guides. This study aims to explore how museums texts mediate between displayed objects and visitors, and play a role in shaping visitors' perceptions of the exhibition. Earlier studies on museum texts focus on readability and accessibility of labels, and recent studies on museum texts have shifted their focus to the ideological stance of museum authorities. However, from a linguistic perspective, this paper would like to propose a third perspective, i.e. a pragmatic perspective, with a focus on interaction between label writers and receivers. We will demonstrate that a new pragmatic orientation in studies of museum texts is important at this time, as it can complement the current dominant wave of socially and educationally oriented research around museum texts. After all, the real question is not only about what is presented and covered in the label, but how texts really direct visitors to perceive the displayed objects in such a way that the exhibition goals can be achieved most effectively.


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