Animating memories: revealing the organisation of remembering in interaction at museum exhibits

Lucy Meechan*, Dirk Vom Lehn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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In this article we will explore how people’s memories of past experiences and events are evoked through their interaction with, and around museum objects. By examining naturally-occurring interactions which emerge at exhibits, we investigate how people draw upon material objects within the museum- texts and exhibits, when vocalising their rememberings of past experiences and events, and address the role of the body in animating these occasioned memories. Thus, we can observe how memories are brought to life at exhibits- these past encounters supplying a means through which to engage in the present, and address how people’s aesthetic encounters are shaped by these vocal and bodily animated rememberings. We also examine a case in which a participant’s remembering is questioned, exploring how participants resolve the contested status of memory to arrive at a concerted way of remembering and experiencing an exhibit. The analysis contributes to discussions within the sociology of memory and memory studies, as well as to museology and related areas of research. It is based on field observations and video-recordings of interaction in museums and other exhibitions in Great Britain and Europe, adopting ethnomethodology and conversation analysis as its analytic attitude.
Original languageEnglish
Article number
JournalÖsterreichische Zeitschrift für Soziologie
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2024


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