Cite as: Anke te Heesen, The Whole and its Parts in the Museum, lecture, ICI Berlin, 5 May 2014, video recording, mp4, 44:45 <>
5 May 2014

The Whole and its Parts in the Museum

By Anke te Heesen
Museums – like archives and libraries – are widely seen as central agents of knowledge that create order out of the endless jumble of things through classification, preservation and arrangement. New museological approaches, aided by new technologies of presentation, refrain from classifying the corpus of objects, and present them instead in their numerical richness and disparateness without embedding them in an overarching hierarchy. Te Heesen argues that recent installations at a number of museums evoke amazement, reverence and fascination, but – unlike systematizers since the 18th century – no longer confront the viewer with a hierarchical classification. Instead, visitors are presented with the mass of objects alone. Where does that leave us?

Anke te Heesen, curator and historian, has been professor of history of science at Humboldt University Berlin since 2011. She has also worked at the Deutsche Hygiene-Museum in Dresden, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, and the University of Tübingen. Her research focuses on issues of objects and science, notation systems in science, art and science and their collecting and ordering practices. Her main books are World in a Box. The Story of an Eighteenth-Century Picture Encyclopedia (2002), and Der Zeitungsausschnitt. Papierobjekt der Moderne (2006; in English, Manchester UP, 2014). Her latest book is Theorien des Museums (2012). Her current research projects deal with the history of the research interview and the history of exhibitions in the 1970 and the 1980.


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Video in English

Format: mp4
Length: 00:44:45
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Rights: © ICI Berlin