Art, museums and touch

By Fiona Candlin

Art, museums and touch

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7933-7
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: August 2010
  • BIC Category: History of art, ART / Museum Studies, The arts / History of art / art & design styles, Art History, Museology & heritage studies
  • Series: Rethinking Art's Histories


Art, museums and touch examines conceptions and uses of touch within arts museums and art history. Candlin deftly weaves archival material and contemporary museology together with government policy and art practice to question the foundations of modern art history, museums as sites of visual learning, and the association of touch with female identity and sexuality. This remarkable study presents a challenging riposte to museology and art history that privileges visual experience. Candlin demonstrates that touch was, and still is, crucially important to museums and art history. At the same time she contests the recent characterisation of touch as an accessible and inclusive way of engaging with museum collections, and argues against prevalent ideas of touch as an unmediated and uncomplicated mode of learning. An original and wide-ranging enquiry, this book is essential reading for scholars and students of museum studies, art history, visual culture, disability, and for anyone interested in the cultural construction of the senses.


Fiona Candlin is Senior Lecturer in Museum Studies at Birkbeck (University of London)


List of illustrations
Introduction: Lines of enquiry
1. Sensory separation and the founding of art history
2. Art history, touch and gender
3. Museum visitors and a changing sensory regime
4. Curators, connoisseurs and expert object handling
5. Touch and access provision
6. Touching modern and contemporary art
Conclusion: Some consequences

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