What Do we See in Museums? Journal Article uri icon



  • AbstractI address two related questions. First: what value is there in visiting a museum and becoming acquainted with the objects on display? For art museums the answer seems obvious: we go to experience valuable works of art, and experiencing valuable works of art is itself valuable. In this paper I focus on non-art museums, and while these may house aesthetically valuable objects, that is not their primary purpose, and at least some of the objects they house might not be particularly aesthetically valuable at all. Second: to what ontological type or category do museum objects belong? What type of item should be featured on an inventory of a museum collection? I distinguish between typical objects and special objects. While these are different types of object, both, I argue, are abstracta, not concreta. The answer to the second question, concerning the ontological category of special objects, throws new light on various philosophical questions about museums and their collections, including the question about the value of museum experiences. But it also throws light on important questions concerning the preservation and restoration of museum objects.

publication date

  • October 1, 2016

Date in CU Experts

  • January 31, 2017 10:57 AM

Full Author List

  • Oddie G

author count

  • 1

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1358-2461

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1755-3555

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 217

end page

  • 240


  • 79