Kerstin Pannhorst

Beyond Chronology? Time at the Museum

Published: 2011-01-01 | DOI: 10.54799/QWVM4762


Museums as a form of “Time Machine” are deeply connected with the dimension of time. Yet the question of how to display time and time spans poses a challenge in designing exhibitions, especially exhibitions pertaining to large time spans such as those involved in evolution. In search of an approach to this topic, the visitor makes a good point of reference, i.e. the question of how humans perceive and process time. Research in cognitive linguistics has shown that our understanding of abstract notions such as time is metaphorically structured. Our mind uses what we can experience ourselves as a model for understanding what we cannot experience directly. In this way, time and space are inseparable in our mind. Three models are presented: time as having a certain direction, time as a moving entity, and time as a landscape featuring a moving ego. These models allow exhibition makers a new perspective on existing exhibitions, and will hopefully also provide impulses for future exhibitions. In exhibitions showing objects of (pre)historic times, time is usually the main structuring element. It is argued that this does not necessarily have to be restricted to chronological presentations, as time can be used more creatively in exhibition design in order to better engage visitors.

How to Cite

Pannhorst, Kerstin. 2011. “Beyond Chronology? Time at the Museum”. EAZ – Ethnographisch-Archaeologische Zeitschrift 52 (2):239-51.
EAZ Cover Issue 2/2011, 52. Volume
EAZ Cover Issue 2/2011, 52. Volume
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