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Exhibition Studies: A Nordic Network

The network works to develop new methods and theories in the field of exhibition studies by arranging workshops and seminars and developing joint projects.

The term “exhibition studies” is not well established, and one of our aims is to delineate this as a field of study through our joint projects

About the Group

Employing a wide scope of theoretical resources, historical research on national exhibitions, world’s fairs and museums has explored the power of objects in negotiating and stabilizing identities and social categories.

From the perspective of a history of things, exhibitions have been analyzed as collection machines, drawing things together and bringing about museum institutions and heritage sites.

Their capacity to produce collectable moments on an individual scale has also been discussed, for example how they became remembered and personalized in the souvenir, a small and yet powerful medium of material culture that nineteenth-century exhibitions turned into a desirable and mass produced commodity.

Taking some distance from the singular object, another line of investigation has analyzed the material design of exhibitions, discussing the architectural technologies, classification systems and sensory regimes that organized exhibitionary spaces.

However, whether the focus has been on the collection, the souvenir, or the order of things, all of these perspectives share a semiotic emphasis, directing attention towards the ways in which things carry and communicate meaning.

More recent research has taken a somewhat different approach towards the agency of materiality in exhibitions. An example of this is historical studies that theorize exhibitions as media space, focusing on the material presence of media at nineteenth- and early twentieth-century temporary exhibitions and how exhibitionary media physically engaged the visitors.


Activities Materially mediated world – Politics of display and knowledge from cabinets of curiosity to the digital era. 28–29 September 2015. Organized by The Department of European and World History at the University of Turku, Finland.

Exhibition Materialities: Workshop at the Tieranatomisches Theater, Berlin. June 9 and 10 2014. In collaboration with Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik and Lehrstuhl für Wissenschaftsgeschichte at the Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.

Financed by Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond – The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. Organized by Anders Ekström, Brita Brenna and Taina Syrjämaa.

New Materialities in Exhibition Studies, A Workshop, Uppsala University, 22-23 August 2012. Organized by Frans Lundgren, Anders Ekström, Leila Koivunen and Taina Syrjämaa.


Published Apr. 6, 2017 10:35 AM - Last modified Oct. 10, 2019 1:53 PM