You are on page 1of 15

The embodiment of the social roles of modern museums - A study on the space and body in the modern museums

HUANG Hsu Abstract


According to several architectural studies, modern museums are not merely places where knowledge is transmitted but also places where social relationships are shaped and take place. This is especially true in the views of scholars such as Bill Hillier, Thomas Markus, J. Peponis, and J. Hedin. Through spatial layout, the movements of museum visitors are structured and social relationships are constructed. It is from this perspective that this paper sets out to explore the different roles that modern museums play in society. To investigate how spatial design is involved in changes in museums' roles, this paper begins with the proposition of spatial themes. This paper proposes two themes, strength of sequence and depth of core, both of which affects the movements of museum visitors and their encounters. While the sequence is the spatial function to control the movement of visitors, the core is to congregate visitors. The author then proceeds to discuss how these spatial themes are incorporated with the two types of bodies that are the embodiment of the social relationships between museum visitors. The study suggests that a change has occurred in the roles of museums in terms of the types of body and space. The mission of modern museums has shifted away from the shaping of the meticulous body, which originated in the Victorian period, toward that of loose body, which is concerned with the emerging subject positions. This paper uses space syntax to analyse spatial layouts of the selected examples. Several historical and theoretical works on body and space are drawn for discussion. Keywords: Modern museum, embodiment, spatial type, random encounter, movement, space syntax

1 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

The embodiment of the social roles of modern museums - A study on the space and body in the modern museums

Introduction: The two spatial themes of the modern museums According to the paper The Spatialisation of Knowledge and Social Relationships by the author in 2001, literature review on the social implications of the public space of the modern museum suggests the presence of two spatial themes. The paper investigated the spatial ideas developed in the museological and architectural literatures. In the literatures, several scholars have considered the spatial layouts of modern museums to perform their social functions in two aspects: the first is to organise visitors' walking ; the second is to physically or virtually congregate visitors. The author argued that these two functions are related to the integration core 1 and the spatial sequence of the spatial layouts, respectively. Based on this idea, the author's 2001 study seeks to construct a twodimensional perspective of the question of spatial types. The spatial types of modern museums are therefore recognised as the coordinates consisting of the two dimensions with different measures. The author argued that the measure of the first dimension is the depth of integration core. 2 The depth of the integration core is the relative length between the centre of gravity of the integration core and the entrance. It marks the different degree and characteristics of copresence. While the shallow core provides the maximum opportunities for body encounter through movement, the deep core provides the maximum opportunities for virtual encounter through visibility. They are the different encounter patterns regulated by the spatial configuration. The second dimension of the spatial types of the modern museum relates to organised walking - the strength of the single sequence. The basic spatial logic of the single sequence, for the convex space unit, 3 is that of one way in, one way out. Visitor

movement is constrained in the convex spaces of single sequence without any alternatives. The strength of the single sequence could be calculated thus constructing the measure for the second

Integration core is a technical term in space syntax, meaning the space or group of spaces closest in spatial terms to all others. When using the method of space syntax, space can be realised through a system constituted by two kinds of elements. The first of these is termed the axial line. The axial line is drawn to indicate the relationship between all spatial units in a spatial complex in terms of their visibility and accessibility. The spatial system could therefore be represented as an axial map where the longest and fewest lines of sight and access are drawn through all the spatial units. The second element used to constitute the spatial system is that of the convex space. The convex is the spatial unit within which a diamond-shape space is encapsulated. The diamond-shape space refers to the physical environment that allows the people in it to see and to encounter each other simultaneously. The spatial system could therefore be represented as the convex break-up where the largest and fewest convex spaces and the linkages between them are drawn to cover all the space. Moreover, each axis and convex are recognized gaining its different properties through the organization of the whole spatial system. Among the different properties, as far as this paper is concerned, the degree of the integration is the most important property that is related to the movement of body. The degree of integration, put simply, theoretically indicates the relative intensity of usage in terms of movement. The high integrated spatial units and axes thus constitute the integration core in the spatial system. 2 Huang argues that the integration core theoretically is the convex spaces where the congregation happens. However, according to Hillier's arguments and Choi's empirical studies on the core, the function of maximising random encounter could be virtualised and visualised through the increasing depth of the core . Choi pointed out in his work that the presence of people in the different museum spaces is not consistently related to the configurational properties of layouts. The number of people visible from a space, however, is very strongly and consistently correlated with the degree of integration of the space. (Choi, 1991, p.245) In other words, Choi found that the integration core is not the space where the maximum number of people are present, but rather the space where the maximum number of people could be seen. However Hillier has suggested that this phenomena is due to the movement of the integration core. The integration core has became deeper and thus defunctionalised . Hillier's inference about the relation between the depth of integration core and the phenomena of virtualisation could be supported by a review on Choi s empirical study. (For details please see Huang, 2001, p.43.6-7). 3 Please see note 1 for the meaning of this term.

2 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

dimension of the spatial types. 4 The depth of the integration core and the strength of sequence thus constitute the two dimensional grid of the spatial types of modern museums. In the previous study, the author selected 14 museums for the analysis of the distribution of the spatial types, as shown in Figure 1. According to the figure, integration cores of the nine museums in the U.K. and the United States generally became deeper as time went on. For the selected cases, there was a trend of outside-in movement of the core. The integration cores were more and more enclosed by the other exhibition space in museums. The intention of the previous study however was not to claim a universal rule of the transformation of the spatial types of modern museums. The two dimensional grid is a methodologically temporary construct to give way to further study on the social roles of museum space. For this paper, the question then turns to the social implications of the encounter patterns brought about by the two spatial themes. In other words, this study seeks to explain how the museum public spaces relate to their social roles in terms of the encounter patterns in different time and space. This

study will explore this question mainly in the context of the U.K. society from the Victorian period to the contemporary.

The meticulous body in the integration core One of the characters of modern museums that have been recognized by scholars as the main one is their public use. It has been claimed by many scholars that the museums and galleries in the 19th century had replaced the private cabinets and became the sites for public access (Pickstone, 1994; Duncan, 1995; Bennett, 1995). The modern museums are from this period the non-discriminated sites in terms of the restrictions on visitors' social status and opening hours. Visiting museums became one of the important social occasions that the museum visitors are driven by the museum collections to move within different display areas, and therefore to encounter each other in different places. The experience of this social occasion, therefore, could be regarded as being constituted by a numerous encounter experience which was embodied by the movement and the appearance of visitors' bodies. Erving Goffman in his book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life has specifically studied how people communicate with their bodies in public space. It is on the occasions of encounter, that people use their bodies to identify their social roles and their relationships to each other. In other words, encounter of body occupies the central position in social interaction, which becomes very reliant on the skills of body performance.
4

Figure 1: The selected sample on a two-dimensional grid of museum spatial types (Huang, H. 2001).

Huang measures the strength of the single sequence by calculating the proportion of the two-entry convex spaces in the spatial system. Due to the fact that the one-entry convex normally functions as an attachment of the convex space which is connected to it, when calculating the proportion of the two-entry convex the one-entry convex could be ignored. The proportion of the two-entry convex, which indicates the strength of the organised walking, thus constitutes the second dimension of the spatial types of modern museums (see Huang, 2001, p.43.7).

3 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

The embodiment of the social roles of modern museums - A study on the space and body in the modern museums

Goffman's ideas about body performance, however, do not liken it to a kind of body language or body idiom which put emphasis on the decoding of the social meaning of body. Most interesting in Goffman's study of body performance, in this study's view, is that Goffman used drama to explain how people interact with each other during encounters. The encounter is not merely an occasion where the body is constrained by social codes. Rather, the encounter is also an occasion that allows self - as an active agent - to express selfidentity through control over body. In Goffman's analysis, body is like a strategy or resource employed by individuals in their daily lives to identify who they are. When stating how individuals show themselves to be situationally present in a public place, Goffman said that it is through the disciplined management of personal appearance or personal front, that is, the complex of clothing, make-up, hairdo, and other surface decorations he carries about on his person (Goffman, 2005, p.84). Clothing and fashion, as the extension of the body, in this regard play a very important role for the self - project . According to Richard Sennett's study, after the middle of the nineteenth century, the appearance of the body was made relatively homogeneous by the development of the sewing machine, the mass production of clothes, shoes, watches and other accessories. This relative homogeneity of body, however, did not hinder the distinction between people. On the contrary, it provided the opportunity for the body to enter into the field of minute details that became the main signals of what a man or woman's personality is. Instead of social status, this personality became the main characteristic that people are dressing to signify, and by doing so to identify with. Sennett further argued how this personality was related to the sexual attitudes in the

Victorian period. Sennett suggested that sex became something that people, seeking the status of gentlemen or lady, attempted to mask by obscuring its reflections in their personal objects - including the appearance of the body. Sennett proposed an example to explain this phenomenon. He noted that in the middle of the nineteenth century, all appearances have personal meaning, it became equally rational to feel that the exposed legs of a piano are provocative (Sennett, 1977, p.167, see also Hobsbawn, 1975, p.275 ). A good gentleman therefore will in his home, cover the legs of a piano, and even those of a dining table. This example suggests that for the Victorian age, sex was referred to as personality, and a good person should repress it. What a good person should do, nevertheless, could differ from what happened in reality. According to recent studies, Victorian sexual life could be far from the contemporary standard of asceticism. 5 What is important, however, is the gesture of this repression. This study refers to the gesture of repression as the sexual morality of physical appearances that is the social and moral policing for the subject. Such repression however dwells only at the surface-depth of objects. In the covering up and management of objects, such as the hiding of the bedroom, sex was,
5

For example, Wilson and Taylor have addressed this point from a perspective of Feminism. They said: Yet even in the sexual realm there was more diversity than is usually acknowledged. Although the fallen woman was a central figure of Victorian moral mythology, in real life a lapse from virtue and even adultery and divorce did not always mean absolute social extinction for the middle-class woman. There is also evidence that Victorian middle-class women were by no means all the sexless sepulchres of virtue that the stereotype has led us to assume (Wilson & Taylor, 1989, p.25). Among the historian, Eric Hobsbawn has the same observation on the sexual life of the Victorians. He said: By modern standards those lay monasteries, the Oxford and Cambridge colleges, look like case books of sexual pathology (Hobsbawn, 1975, p.275). For reviewing the diverse sexual practice in Victorian period see also Hall, L. A. 2000, Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain Since 1880, pp.10-29.

4 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

nevertheless, being emphasised. But it was being emphasised as something needed to be taken care. It is over there, disseminated to everywhere in daily life. It could be recognised and it is at the same time something needed to be hidden. This complicated and contradictory sexual morality had to be devised in order to define what personality is. This paper argues that the body of the Victorian was the site for this contradictory sexual morality. In order to allow repression to take place, the appearances of the body especially for the women - have to be signified as the site of sexual activity. To signify as a sexual site, the shape of the body was emphasised by the clothes of Victorian women - for example by using the corset and crinoline. After sex was made recognisable on the body, the requirement was made for ladies and gentlemen to repress it. To signify this repression, the clothes at the same time had to hermetically seal the body. A respectable person therefore had to show sex, and at the same time reject it. Resisting temptation is a condition of being regarded as a good person in society. It is this sexuality, the combination of temptation and prohibition, which was called upon to discipline the body and to produce subjectivity in nineteenth century Victorian life. In contrast to the ideas of workers and the bourgeois, the ideas about what characterises a good person, i.e., a lady or gentlemen, constituted a new realm that people identified with. Sennett suggests that: Through reading details of appearance, strangers tried to determine whether someone had metamorphosed an economic position into the more personal one of being a gentleman (Sennett, 1977, p.164). According to Wilson and Taylor, middle-class Victorians frequently expressed an anxiety that the distinctions between classes were becoming obscure (Wilson & Taylor, 1989, p.17). Forty has also shown how costume

expressed the conflicting desires to obscure social distinctions and to make them apparent (Forty, 1986, pp.72-6). To elaborate the details helped the distinction. The advantage of this type of body for the middle class is that it did not employ an exaggerated style, which would be regarded as vanity. But nevertheless this detailed body could provide essential information. This information could be detected only through close inspection. There was thus a new need for opportunities of close encounter to read the character of strangers from the elaborate details of their clothes. 6 To fail this examination would be regarded a moral failure. Under these circumstances, to occupy a subject position in society now means to act according to the physical appearances of this type of body - the meticulous body. There were certain minute details of the body being objectified to the norms that provided judgments on the decency of individuals. The social order, therefore, could be understood as being established on the consensus of this type of body during this period. To maintain surveillance on the body is the same thing as securing the social order thus continuously examining the body became necessary. Bennett has noted in his study how the discourse of natural history in the middle of the nineteenth century turned physical virtue into the main principle of the subject for maintaining the existing social order. 7 Nevertheless, this might not be achieved by the discourse of nature alone. This study
6

Sennett and Wilson both have argued that the details of clothes were in the nineteenth century the very essential clues for people to read the characters and personality of strangers. See Sennett, R. 1977, The Fall of Public Man, pp. 165-6; Wilson, E. 2003, Adorned in Dreams, p.137. 7 In his writing, Bennett quoted from Desmond's study Huxley: The Devil's Disciple to say that Huxley, in 1855, aimed to show the working classes that physical virtue is the base of all other, and that they are to be clean & temperate & all the rest, not because fellows in black with white ties tell them so, but because these are plain and patent laws of nature (Bennett, T. 1998, p.31; Desmond, A. 1994, p.210).

5 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

The embodiment of the social roles of modern museums - A study on the space and body in the modern museums

suggests that the spatial layouts of modern museums play a role to support the social order. The modern museum, with its increased public access, can be regarded as one of the sites providing a kind of training course. The shallow integration cores which appear in the museums, for example in the Oxford University Museum, the NHM, and the Edinburgh Museum of Science, characterise the modern museums of science that were built in the U.K. in the second half of the nineteenth century. In the integration core, through maximising random encounter the visitors were able to closely examine each other for body details that would be revealed. The moving crowd in the core therefore is not just a spectacle, but training sessions generated by the space machine to maintain social order. The use of this spatial arrangement in museums, in the social context, is a way established by the changing society to reproduce the meticulous body.

The loose body of consumer Victorian sexuality, as this study has suggested, was a gesture of repression concerned with the physical appearances of the body. After the early twentieth century, scholars argued that there emerged another type of body that could be could be recognised the rise of consumer culture. Featherstone has pointed out in his study that in the 1920s, that a new relationship between the body and self emerged. Within consumer culture the body is proclaimed as a vehicle of pleasure: it is desirable and desiring and the closer the actual body approximates to the idealised images of youth, health, fitness and beauty the higher its exchange-value. Consumer culture permits the unashamed display of the human body. Clothing is designed to celebrate the natural human form, a marked contrast to the nineteenth century in which clothes were designed to conceal the body. (Featherstone, 1991, p.177)

Featherstone's notion on the concealment of the Victorian body generally corresponds to Kern's analysis of Victorian sexual morality and clothes (Kern, 1975, p.1-3). However Featherstone did not follow Kern's analysis of progressivism in relation to the body. 8 Featherstone's description of consumer culture and the body is interesting, in that it shows the change of body forms as being one from concealment to the natural under the influence of the consumer culture. The body became a site where pleasure is celebrated. To celebrate pleasure is to display the natural form of the body. Within consumer culture the body ceases to be a vessel of sin and the secularised body is found more and more contexts for display both inside and outside the bedroom (Featherstone, 1991, p.177). The new form of body is, according to Featherstone, actually not truly natural. Youth, fitness, and beauty are definitions of the natural . They coincide with the requirement of being a desirable object of sex, which the beauty industry can promote. Colmer's study on the history of body packaging also provides us with other evidence that emphasis on the natural body has increased since the early twentieth century. According to data on shapes of women whom he analysed, Colmer noted that having suffered centuries of rigid figure torture, women have finally abandoned whalebone and wadding in favour of muscle control and see-through fabrics (Colmer, 1979). Colmer's study and illustrations show the process that women have gradually undergone in which they had been dissected over the ages. The concealed,
8

According to his book Anatomy and Destiny, Kern considers that since the heyday of Victorianism progress has been made toward better understanding of the body and a freer indulgence in bodily pleasure (Kern, 1975, p.xii). His ideas echo the opinion that the movement away from the artificial body to the more natural body is a sign of progress (see Kern, 1975, p.19-20).

6 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

meticulous body, gradually is ripped open to reveal the surface of the skin. To reveal the natural form of body, it means that one must control the shape of one's body in order to improve one's personal magnetism. The norms of the natural body are connected with the charm of sensuality and, at the same time the confidence of self. According to Shilling's argument, the relationship between self-identity and the body has been so radicalised since the 1960s that sociologist Gidden termed this period as high modernity . 9 Self-identity and the body became reflectively organised projects which had to be sculpted from the complex plurality of choices offered by high modernity without moral guidance as to which should be selected (Shilling, 1993, p.181). In high modernity, the complex plurality of choices becomes essential for self-identity. The clothes, the food, the housing, the entertainment, and many others present themselves as options waiting to be chosen. The body becomes the project for self-identity not only by making itself the result of choices, but also by involving itself in the process of choice. To answer the question of who you are, is to express yourself not only by physical appearance as the result of the above choice, but also by the act of choice itself. Compared with the meticulous body, the body in high modernity is freer from the control of sexuality. Sex is not something that needs to be hidden away; instead, sex is the personal charm that should be displayed and celebrated. In the context of the above study, this body could be regarded as having a loose form, since it implies the freedom of choice and the celebration of sensuality through the display of self. This study will in the following suggest that these two characteristics could be incorporated into and embodied by the spatial layouts of modern museums. In the following sections, this study will

examine the spatial layouts of the contemporary Natural History Museum (NHM) and the Millennium Dome in London. The case analysis is intended to explain how spatial layouts relate to the loose body. The spatial analyses suggest two spatial regularities: (1) discontinuity of the external relationships, and (2) strong sequence of the internal relationships. (1) The discontinuity between the thematic exhibitions: In this study, thematic exhibitions refer to exhibition zones that can be identified as complete spatial units. It is a spatial classification based on the principle of exhibition zoning rather than knowledge itself. For instance, Figure 2 shows the spatial diagram of the thematic exhibitions of the NHM. Taken together with the other spaces such as passages, restaurants, shops, and others, this spatial diagram can be considered as a basic map showing the relationship between the different exhibition areas. Figure 3 shows the j-graph 10 of this diagram. This j-graph is a simplification of the full j-graph, since it does not show all the convexes of the spatial layout. However, it is sufficient for the purpose of examining the external relationships between each of the exhibition areas. In the Figure 3, the thematic exhibition areas are marked by black dots. The relationships between these units, as the j-graph shows, are mostly discontinuous. Except for unit 7 and unit 22 which are directly connected, all the other units are
9

Gidden uses this term to indicate the radicalisation of modern trends in the late twentieth century. In this period, the main characteristics of modernity such as the control on the bodies are considered as being intensified. 10 According to Hillier and Hanson, j-graph is a justified spatial map in which spaces are represented by circles and permeabilities by lines, and all spaces of the same depth value are lined up horizontally with the lines representing direct permeabilities between spaces drawn in. For detailed explanation of this term please refer to Hillier and Hanson, 1984, p.147-9, and also Markus, 1993, p.13-8.

7 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

The embodiment of the social roles of modern museums - A study on the space and body in the modern museums

1.39.40. Entrance; 2. Central Hall; 3.4.5.8.9.10.13.14.25.26.27.28.32. 36.38.41.42. Passage; 6.Waterhouse Way (Paleontology); 7. Human Biology; 11. Dinosaurs; 12. Ecology; 15. Cafe; 16.20.23.24. Temporary Exhibitions; 17.19.37. Shops; 18.34. Restaurants; 21. Bird Gallery; 22.30. Mammals; 29. Marine Invertebrates; 31. Lasting Impressions; 33. Earth Today and Tomorrow; 35. Visions of Earth.

Figure 2: The diagram of the thematic exhibitions of the NHM.

Figure 4: The plan of the Millennium Dome.

Figure 3: The j-graph of the thematic exhibition diagram of NHM.

separated. They are separated mostly by passages, for example units 5, 6, 32, and 36. The Millennium Dome, which was opened to the public in January 2000, offers an extreme case of the discontinuity between exhibition areas. Looking at its plan (Figure 4), it can be found that all the exhibitions areas are discontinuous. All the 14 exhibition zones in the Dome are connected with each other through the middle ringed road the ringed road between the outer ringed road and the central round plaza. They are mediated by the other spaces to keep them separated and discontinuous from each others. This building therefore, is a typical case of a discontinuous external relationship between thematic exhibitions.

(2) The strong sequence of the thematic exhibitions: This study selected several exhibitions in the NHM and the Dome to describe the phenomena of the increasing strength of the single sequence. Figure 5 and 6 show the convex break-up and the j-graph of the exhibitions in the NHM - respectively the Ecology Gallery and the Dinosaurs Gallery. These figures suggest that the strength of the single sequence is obviously very strong for both exhibitions. The value of the single sequence for the Ecology Gallery is 1.00 (100%), the Dinosaurs Gallery is 0.93 (93%).11 They are both very strong in their strength of sequence. Look into the other exhibitions areas in the NHM, it can be found that not all the exhibitions reveal such a strong sequence. For example, unit 7, Human Biology, which was opened during the end of the 1970s, is quite different (Figure 7). It is a ringed, nondistributed, spatial system. There are 10 rings shared by 47 convexes in the system. The value of the sequence is 0.67(67%), which is a moderate strength of sequence.
11

Please see note 1 and note 4 for calculation of the value of the single sequence.

8 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

Figure 7: Convex break-up and j-graph of the Human Biology exhibition in the NHM.

Figure 5: Convex break-up and j-graph of the Ecology Gallery in the NHM.

Figure 6: Convex break-up and j-graph of the Dinosaurs Gallery in the NHM.

However, most of the other exhibition areas in the museum do offer a strong sequence. In addition to the Ecology and Dinosaur exhibitions mentioned above, unit 30, Mammals, and unit 35, Visions of Earth, also reveal a strong sequence. The spatial arrangement of unit 30 conforms mainly to

the principle of the single ring in the same way as the Ecology and Dinosaur exhibition areas. The routes for visitors are organised around the central exhibits, among which is the famous Whale exhibit. The Visions of Earth is in fact mainly an escalator. It is an un-reversed space. Not just because of its characteristic strong sequence, but also because of the one way movement of its spatial layout. Compare with the Human Biology Hall built during the 1970s, the control of movement is increasingly intensified in these new exhibition projects. If the Visions of Earth is an early and experimental example of one way logic, the Dome can be regarded as having advanced the perfect form of this movement control. Based on the field survey on the Dome conducted for this study, most of the exhibition zones are highly sequential. More precisely, they are one way oriented. Several examples will explain this point of view. Figures 8 and 9 show the convex break-up and the j-graph of the two exhibition zones Body and Play. Figure 8a is the convex break-up of Body zone, and Figure 8b shows the j-graph for the natural movement. The Body zone, as can be seen from Figure 8a and 8b, has a very strong sequential plan. The value of the sequence is 1.00 (100%). Examining this plan in more detail, there are two barriers to prevent reverse movement. The first barrier are the escalators, they are at convex 10 and convex 22. The second is the

9 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

The embodiment of the social roles of modern museums - A study on the space and body in the modern museums

Figure 8: Convex break-up and j-graph of the Body zone in the Dome.

Figure 9: Convex break-up and j-graph of the Play zone in the Dome.

accurately reflects the movement of visitors in the exhibition zones. The other exhibition zones in the Dome are mostly similar to the Body zone - with a strong sequential plan and the constraint of one-way movement. Figure 9 is another example. Its revised j-graphs (Figure 9c) is just like that of the Body zone. Twelve out of 14 exhibition zones are alike in terms of movement control. Compared with the NHM, the Dome approaches closer to a strong sequence through its spatial organisation that promotes one-way movement. This paper suggests that the discontinuity between the thematic areas and the strong sequence within the thematic areas are the two principles that make the layouts appear as available for choice-making. To the consumer, making a choice is related to the discontinuity between each choice. Each product, as a result of each choice, has to be in a certain degree distinguishable from the others in order to mark itself as evidence of choice and individuality. The main point here is the difference the product must make in order to offer itself as a choice. In order to make the different thematic areas appear as providing multiple choices, the discontinuity between them thus needs to be synchronised. The central halls or the main axes in the museums or theme park normally play this role. Their mission is to make visible as much as possible the different products in the museums. A deep core surrounded by different galleries in this regard satisfies this need.

12

design of some of the passages 12 , their width is designed to fit the one way movement of the individual.13 In order to more precisely describe the spatial relationships of this exhibition, Figure 8c shows the revised j-graph of this plan. The jgraph is revised due to the impact of these two barriers to movement. It thus more

13

The passages here are in fact also parts of the exhibition. Along the sides of the passages there normally are exhibits on the walls. This kind of design is particularly emphasised in the zones of Journey and Talk. The width of the passages is, technically, just big enough for the counter movement of two individuals. However since the sides of the passages normally display some exhibits, most of the visitors in fact individually occupy the section of the passages. It is therefore very difficult to have a reverse movement in the flow of the visitors.

10 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

For visitors to possess the products, a guarantee that visitors may own the product must be given at the same time. To ensure that visitors can wholly possess these products, a strong sequence is thus needed. The strong sequence guarantees that all objects and displays in the thematic areas can be seen in a single tour. The deep core and the strong sequence thus could be understood as meeting the choice-making needs of museum visitors. It can be seen that the advantage of this spatial type is the provision of very flexible choices to visitors. Visitors can plan how to take the museum tour based on the length of their stay and the subjects they are interested in. The spatial arrangements can work like different packages within the tours. It is flexible, particularly useful for those tourists who have to schedule their time within busy tours. The deep core and strong sequence type of space can also be seen as having an effect on the social encounters that constitute the co-presence in museums. As discussed previously, the deep core defunctionalises the integration core. This means that the number of visitors visible from the core are maximised by the spatial arrangements. The core in this sense provides as many possible opportunities that a spatial layout can make for the museum visitors to display themselves. The other effect of the deep core is that it minimises random encounters as compared with the shallow core. With the strong sequence the social encounter is also minimised; the deep core constitutes a museum spatial type that provides visitors with the minimum chance to encounter each other. In some cases, strong sequence visitors can only see the back of other visitors in the one-way movement. Among all the possible types of spatial organisation, this spatial type can be recognised as providing minimum chance for random encounter and maximum chance for seeing each other. To

display the self but to avoid encounters as best as the space allows, this could be seen as the way to embody the social relationships between the loose body of contemporary museum visitors. The spatial organization therefore not only fits the need of the consumer - museum visit as an activity of choice-making, but also provides the limited encounter experience that the spatial arrangements can make within the movement of the crowd. The choice-making of routes therefore should not be confused with the numerous possibilities of alternative routes provided by the museum space. In the context of consumerism, this paper suggests that the choice-making is in fact a limited choice. It is concerned with the space as a whole, and its interest is in how to limit the numerous possibilities into several choices rather than to create different possibilities by spatial arrangements. The choice-making and the avoidance of encounter, it could be argued, are related to the social relationships between strangers in the public space. From the perspective of sexuality to look into the contemporary social relationship, Foucault provides an example in Space, Knowledge, Power. He said that: What is interesting about male homosexuality today is that their sexual relations are immediately translated into social relations and the social relations are understood as sexual relations (Foucault 82c: 376). The dominance of sexuality in social relationships, nevertheless, occurs not just among homosexuals. Imagine the possible interactions between visitors in museums. Imagine if you eagerly try to discuss your views about an exhibit with male strangers in museums. If you are male, you can arouse the suspicion of homosexuality. If you are female, perhaps people will perceive you as trying to look for a more intimate relationship. The point here is that sexuality has formed a very strong surveillance on the kinds of encounters that produce social

11 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

The embodiment of the social roles of modern museums - A study on the space and body in the modern museums

relations among visitors in contemporary society. More precisely, such relations are caught up, monopolised by, a sexuality that regards sex as the truth about self. The prohibition of sex is still there, the gesture of liberation has nothing to do with abolishing this prohibition as long as sex is required to tell us the truth about ourselves, and that it is banished into the private realm. The effect among crowds is to keep individuals separated. The loose body, in this sense, is an individualised body that now seeks to avoid social encounters in the public realm. As a result of the dominance of sexuality in social relations, the loose body in the public space is therefore able only to consume. To be a consumer is widely recognised by the public as the right track for behaviour characteristic of the loose body. To choose, to buy, to experience like an individual consumer, is the standard conduct for most of the public, especially for the tourists. This track provides a safe place where the public has the sense of security necessary for encounters with others. The loose body in the public space is frequently monitored, controlled by the dissemination of sexuality, and thus consummates the mission: to form the collection of individualities in contemporary society. Put another way, the loose body as a type of body has a characteristic very different than that of the meticulous body. While the meticulous body emphasises examination by encounter, the loose body avoids encounter or, more precisely, encounter as individual consumers. Space can support the activities of individual consumers by providing choicemaking and helping the avoidance of encounter. From this perspective, the deep core and the strong sequence provide the needs for, and embody, the social relationships of the loose body. For museums in contemporary society, the strong sequence can be seen as a very prevalent form of spatial organisation. The

contemporary NHM, the Dome and the Museum of London are typical examples of this kind of organisation. It would be valuable to observe whether the museums that claim to be international and intend to attract visitors worldwide would be more inclined to deploy this type of museum in the future. However, the most successful institutions in applying this strong sequence probably are not museums in the strict sense. Theme parks such as Disneyland that arrange space in a thematic area through a very sequential control of visitors' movement might be the inspiration for the design of new museums. In this sense, the tourist industry is indeed making the distinction between the museum and theme park more ambiguous, especially, in terms of the spatial arrangement. According to Robert Hewison's study, the heritage industry has become a vital part of the economic underpinning of the U.K. since the 1980s (Hewison, 1987, p.102). A fact sheet issued by the New Millennium Experience recognised that tourism is one of the five largest industries in the U.K. - worth 40 billion pounds a year. In New Visions for Museums in the 21st Century Middleton predicted that by 2001, some 5 billion pounds of lottery money will be generated for a combination of millennium, arts and heritage purposes (Middleton, 1998, p.55). The museums and galleries, as important parts of the tourist industry, 14 have clearly seen increasing investments over the last two decades. The development of tourism in the U.K. could pave the way for the emergence of new subject positions in the museums. HooperGreenhill has shown in her study Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge how the position of the curator is undermined by his/her lack of knowledge about visitors. In
14

According to Middleton, tourist visits to museums and galleries in UK will increase to 98 million in 2002, which is about one fourth of visits for all attractions (Middleton, 1998, p.17).

12 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

the past, exhibitions were prepared by curators and when they were finished, they were opened to the public . ---- At the present time, in many museums, the curator has been decentred, and instead of one point of view, many voices are encouraged to speak (Hooper-Greenhill, 1992, p.210). According to her study, new subject positions such as marketing managers and project managers have emerged with the knowledge about visitors. These marketing managers and project managers have mostly relocated visitors as clients or consumers who demand active rights and expects good service (ibid., p.211). Since the 1980s, for scholars such as Fleming, the museum profession in the U.K. is actually ongoing the process of democratization. Museums have began to show a great interest in, and respect for audiences and their needs (Fleming, 2005, p.1). The new subject positions and the development of tourism could dramatically change the social situations in museums. The role of customers and clients is obviously different from those of past museum visitors. In the past, museum visitors played the role of students, which was being subjected to the knowledge of curators. According to HooperGreenhill, museum visitors are now in a negotiated situation where they have equal position of power. This power challenges the elite culture of museum, which primarily is to serve the interests of the educated minority and often times neglected the needs of most museum visitors. In this regard, emphasis on the needs of museum visitors is a progress that gives museum visitors new freedom of choice; it is, indeed, the social responsibility that the museums must bear. This paper suggests that the visitors' needs are however more diverse than some museums probably have assumed. The new subject positions and tourism have created a situation where the needs of museum visitor/customer can be investigated and imagined, these needs

should not be limited only to the consumerism activities. 15 In term of spatial layouts, for example, Markus has argued in his study that Space can be so linked that communication is free and frequent, making possible dense encounters between classes, groups and individuals. These are the basis for community, friendship and solidarity (Markus, 1993, p.21-5). Markus has proposed the invention of different forms of relations and attachments among individuals through the spatial arrangements and encounters. This point of view reveals that museum space could be the platform of which the opportunities for mixing with others and developing local attachment are provided. With the activities invented and organised by the museum profession, which serves as the catalysis for the interaction between visitors, the museum space could be, therefore, the cathedral of pleasures where the different contemporary issues are discussed and the various needs of body are taken care. This role, the author believes, should not be constrained to the sites of tourism but should become a part of the public's daily life.

Conclusion This paper argues that museum space can be seen as performing social roles through the different patterns of social encounter brought about by spatial layouts that embody social relationships between museum visitors. The social roles of museums can be construed as the process and result of the interplay between body and space. This
15

Some scholars have noticed how museums respond to the needs of consumer. For example Sharon Macdonald has in her study Supermarket Science criticised that the design of an exhibition was in fact driven by consumerism . According to her, consumption was assumed by the exhibition team as the main need for the visitors. She argued that the team's ideas were there already in assumptions about consumption as a key means of expressing individuality, activity as choice, objects as commodities, fun as democratising and museums as part of the marketplace (Macdonald, 1998, p.136).

13 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

The embodiment of the social roles of modern museums - A study on the space and body in the modern museums

paper suggests two kinds of body, namely the meticulous body and the loose body, as the embodiment of social relationships during different periods. Two kinds of encounter patterns can also be related to the two types of body. The first encounter pattern is the maximising of encounter through co-presence in the shallow core. The shallow core in this regard is supporting the shaping of the meticulous body where the minute details of body need to be examined. The second pattern is the minimising and virtualising of encounter through the deep core and the strong sequence. This paper argues that the deep core and strong sequence support the loose body where the body behaves as a choice-making consumer. The cases chosen for analysis in this study, of course, are insufficient to enable this study to claim that there is a general rule of transformation for all kinds of museums. It is not the author's intention to construct such rules. This study, however, attempts to describe the spatial types of modern

museums as playing specific social roles in the context of different types of bodies. The different spatial types of museums, undoubtedly, continue to exist in contemporary society. It would be interesting to investigate how these spatial types are disposed as the arrangements of the social encounters in contemporary society. Can the different kinds of museums, such as local museums and the national museums, be recognized as structuring the social encounter according to the different visitor groups that each individual museum targets? It would be interesting to ask whether the spatial layouts of national museums structure the social encounter in a more conservative way that reflects a lack of the need to create new relationships in long distance spatialtemporal events, or whether the spatial layouts of local museums reflect the need to create new relationships between visitors through social encounters? These questions can be the focus of further studies on museums in contemporary society.

References
Bennett, T. (1995). The birth of the museum. London: Routledge. Bennett, T. (1998). Speaking to the eyes - Museums, legibility and the social order. Macdonald, S. (ed.) The politics of display - Museums, science, culture. pp.25-35. London: Routledge. Choi, Y.K. (1991). The spatial structure of exploration and encounter in museum layouts. Unpublished PhD thesis. Atlanta: Georgia Institute of Technology. Colmer, M. (1979). Whalebone to see through - A history of body packaging. London: Johnston & Bacon. Duncan, C. and Wallach, A. (1980). The universal survey museum. Art History, 3 (4), 448-69. Entwistle, J. (2000). The fashioned body: Fashion, dress and modern social theory. Cambridge: Polity Press. Featherstone, M. (1991). The body in consumer culture. Featherstone, M.; Hepworth, M.; Turner, B. S. (Eds.) The body, pp.170-196. London: SAGE Publications. Fleming, D. (2005). Managing change in museums. The Museum and Change International Conference. Prague: National Museum. Forty, A. (1986). Differentiation in design. Forty, A. Objects of desire. Ch.4, pp.62-93. London: Thames and Hudson. Foucault, M. (1978). The will to knowledge: The history of sexuality volume 1. pp.51-73. London: Penguin Books. Foucault, M. (1982). Space, knowledge, power - Interview conducted with Paul Rabinow. Leach, N. (Ed.) (1997). Rethinking architecture - A reader in cultural theory. pp.367-79. London: Routledge. Frank, A. W. (1991). For a sociology of the body: An analytical review. Featherstone, M.; Hepworth, M.; Turner, B. S. (Eds.) The body - Social process and cultural theory. pp.36-102. London: SAGE Publications. Fraser, M. and Greco, M. (Eds.) (2005). The body - A reader. London: Routledge. Goffman, E. (1956). The presentation of self in everyday life. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh. Goffman, E. (2005). Embodied information in face- to face interaction. Fraser, M., & Greco, M. (Eds.) The Body - A Reader, pp.82-6. London: Routledge.

14 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper

Hall, L. A. (2000). Sex, gender and social change in Britain since 1880. London: Macmillan Press Ltd. Hillier, B. (1996). Space is the machine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hillier, B. and Hanson, J. (1984). The social logic of space. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hillier, B., David Major, M., Desyllas, J., Karimi, K., Campos, B., Stonor, T. (1996). Tate Gallery, Millbank - A study of the existing layout and new master plan proposal. London: The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, UCL. Hobsbawm, E.J. (1975). The age of capital. London: Cox & Wyman Ltd. Hooper-Greenhill, E. (1992). Museums and the shaping of knowledge. London: Routledge. Huang, H. (2001). The spatialisation of knowledge and social relationships. Proceedings, pp.43.1-14. 3rd International Space Syntax Symposium, Atlanta. Georgia Institute of Technology. Kern, S. (1975). Anatomy and destiny - A cultural history of the human body. New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company. Macdonald, S. (1998). Supermarket science? Consumers and the public understanding of science. Macdonald, S. (ed.) The politics of display - Museums, science, culture, pp.118-38. London: Routledge. Markus, T.A. (1987). Buildings as classifying devices. Environment and planning B: Planning and design, volume 14, 467-84. Markus, T.A. (1993). Buildings & Power: Freedom & Control in the Origin of Modern Building Types. London: Routledge. Middleton, V. T. C. (1998). New visions for museums in the 21st century. London: Association of Independent Museums. Peponis, J. and Hedin, J. (1982). The layout of theories in the natural history museum. 9H, no.3., 21-5. Pevsner, N. (1976). A history of building types. London: Thames and Hudson. Pickstone, J. V. (1994). Museological science? The place of the analytical/comparative in nineteenth-century science, technology and medicine. History of Science, 32, 111-38. Pradinuk, R. (1986). Gallery room sequences: Pedagogic, social, categoric and mnemonic effects. Unpublished Msc. Thesis. London: The Bartlett School of Architecture and Planning. Sennett, R. (1977). The fall of public man. London: Faber and Faber. Shilling, C. (1993). The body and social theory. London: Sage Publications. Turner, B. S. (1996). The body and society. London: SAGE Publications. Walsh, K. (1992). The representation of the past - Museums and heritage in the post-modern world. London: Routledge. Wilson, E. (2003). Adorned in dreams - Fashion and modernity. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. Wilson, E. and Taylor, L. (1989). Through the looking glass - A history of dress from 1860 to the present day. London, BBC Books.

About the author


Hsu Huang 16 is an assistant curator at the National Museum of Natural Science in Taiwan. He has been working in the Department of Exhibition as a planner and researcher, and has designed and managed several exhibition projects in the past 15 years. This practical experience with the actual production of museum exhibitions generated his current interest in issues concerning, for example, relationships between knowledge and space, the social functions of museums, and the politics of museum displays. Apart from his present job at the museum, Hsu Huang had been the Director of the Lan-yang Museum of Ilan County, Taiwan. He is also a PhD candidate at the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, University College, London, where his research focuses on the social functions of the spatial organization of museums. He obtained an MA in Architecture from Tunghai University of Graduate Studies in Taiwan, and, since 1990, has published two books and several essays in architectural and museological journals and newspapers. The National Museum of Natural Science was the first science museum in Taiwan established and financed by the government for the purpose of social education. The museum was constructed in four phases over a 12-year period, and the exhibitions were opened to the public in 1993, including a Space Theater, Science Center, Life Science Hall, and Chinese Science Hall. The museum attracts over 200 million visitors every year, making it the most popular museum of its kind in Taiwan.

16

15 INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper