Image Credits: Map of the world showing the extent of the British Empire in 1886. Walter Crane
CRITICAL INQURY | SATIRE | BRITISH MUSEUM | COLONIAL HISTORY
The "Museum on Display" is a critical piece which puts the British Museum in a conventional display glass box- the colonial gaze on a colonial museum.
The aim of this role-reversal is for the viewer to question the idea and notion of "m,useum-ising".
With a label card offering as limited and redundant information, the boxed 'British Museum', which literally exhibits its floor plans and content coverage, offers little else as an experience or an idea of what it is about.
The British Museum floor maps are quite literally overlaid on a vivid Map of the British Empire from 1886- the glory and pride evident in the artistry of the map (cover image of the page) is mirrored in the celebrated and decorated spaces of the museums, indicating that neither the colony, coloniser nor colonisation have disappeared. They've just changed face.
The sanitised box makes the museum hollow and reduces a world of experience, conflict, history, identity, beliefs, and life to a cold, sanitised object.
Museums and their traditional displays tend to displace and isolate contexts and suffocate the stories which inhabit and make objects what they are. Thus limiting our understanding of the world, its people and its complexities.
The power of the museum is in the perspective they create for those who visit it and the worldview they shape.
The sanitised glass box which keeps people away from objects; the pedestals which create reverence, the incomplete dots which give the museum to spin the story the way they want- the signifiers of continuing colonialism- is the world not at the mercy of its display?
If you put the British Museum on display- what is the story that you would stitch?