Accepted paper:

Mute polysemy: animals in exhibition narratives


Mariana Soler (Évora University)
Maria Isabel Landim (University of São Paulo)

Paper short abstract:

Animal's narrative functions are analyzed in exhibitions in Latin-American natural history museums. About the evolutionary concepts, we notice animals lend their own structures for the illustration and demonstration of textually presented concepts, serving as proof of the reality and materialities.

Paper long abstract:

Animals are polysemic entities. Represented for the taxidermy, imagens, videos or sounds, they are commonly present in natural history museums exhibitions. Until, animals are in different collections, and are resources for research in any researches, particularly, life science and evolution. Thereby, animals are boundary objects, between museology and zoology. So, in this research, we analyzed three Latin-American exhibitions. They are contemporary exhibitions (from 2000), and them narratives talk about evolution: "Las Aves" - Museo de Ciencias Naturales Bernardino Rivadavia (Argentina); "Tiempo y materia. Laberintos de la evolución" - Museo de La Plata (Argentina); e "Conchas, corais e borboletas" - Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Heterogeneous collections and exhibitions resources demanded the development of an objective and replicable methodology for describing and analyzing, structures in: (i) data sheets; (ii) conceptual matrixes; and (iii) ground plan of the facilities. From these files, are identify 76 evolutionary concepts, and 11 common concepts among exhibitions. Those common concepts are useful for identifying the communicational function of animals, when we notice that crucial evolutionary concepts and the theoretical construction of narratives is restricted to the associated texts. Although zoological collections have been fundamental for evolutionary research, since the 18th century, themes as practices of science or biographies of the objects are obscure. Animals themselves lend their own structures for the illustration and demonstration of textually presented evolutionary concepts, serving as "proof" of the reality and materialities, restricted to its aesthetic appeal, three-dimensionality and capacity for public attraction.

panel P003
Representing and Depicting Animals