Jay Rounds (firstname.lastname@example.org) is E. Desmond Lee Professor of Museum Studies, University of Missouri-St. Louis, One University Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63121.
Doing Identity Work in Museums
Article first published online: 15 JAN 2010
2006 California Academy of Sciences
Curator: The Museum Journal
Volume 49, Issue 2, pages 133–150, April 2006
How to Cite
Rounds, J. (2006), Doing Identity Work in Museums. Curator: The Museum Journal, 49: 133–150. doi: 10.1111/j.2151-6952.2006.tb00208.x
- Issue published online: 15 JAN 2010
- Article first published online: 15 JAN 2010
Abstract Museum visitors typically look at only about a third of the elements of an exhibition, and often give only limited attention to those. Can visitors really be getting something worthwhile from such partial usage of an exhibition? This article explores how visitors use exhibitions for “identity work,” the processes through which we construct, maintain, and adapt our sense of personal identity, and persuade other people to believe in that identity. Museums offer powerful opportunities for doing identity work, but the visitor does not need to engage with exhibition content deeply or systematically in order to gain the benefits that museum experiences offer for identity work.