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Museum Author(s): Georges Bataille and Annette Michelson Reviewed work(s): Source: October, Vol.

36, Georges Bataille: Writings on Laughter, Sacrifice, Nietzsche, UnKnowing (Spring, 1986), pp. 24-25 Published by: The MIT Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 14/12/2012 00:19
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museum in the modern sense the first Encyclopedia, According to the Great was founded in France by the of the word (meaning the first public collection) ConventionofJuly27, 1793. The originofthe modernmuseum is thuslinkedto the developmentof the guillotine.Nevertheless,the collectionof the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford,foundedat the end of the seventeenth century,was already a public one, belonging to the university. The development of the museum has obviously exceeded even the most optimistichopes of its founders.Not only does the ensemble of the world'smuof museum seums now representa colossal piling-upof wealth, but the totality the world surelyoffers the verygrandiose spectacle of a huvisitorsthroughout manityby now liberatedfrommaterialconcernsand devoted to contemplation. We must realize thatthe halls and art objects are but the container,whose contentis formedby the visitors.It is the contentthat distinguishesa museum froma privatecollection. A museum is like a lung of a great city; each Sunday the crowd flowslike blood into the museum and emerges purifiedand fresh. The paintingsare but dead surfaces,and it is withinthe crowd thatthe streaming play of lightsand of radiance, technicallydescribed by authorized critics,is to observe the flowof visitorsvisiblydriven by the produced. It is interesting desire to resemble the celestial visions ravishingto their eyes. Grandvillehas schematizedtherelationsofcontainerto contentwithrespect to the museum by exaggerating (or so it would appear) the links tentatively formedbetween visitorsand visited. When a native of the Ivory Coast places an axe of neolithic,polished stone withina water-filled receptacle, then bathes to what he in thatreceptacleand offers takes to be thunderstones(fallen poultry the attitudeof enthusiasm fromthe skyin a clap of thunder),he but prefigures and of deep communion with objects which characterizesthe modern museum visitor. The museum is the colossal mirrorin which man, finallycontemplating himselffromall sides, and findinghimselfliterallyan object of wonder, abandons himselfto the ecstasy expressed in art journalism. 1930

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The Louvre of the Marionettes. Grandville.


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