A Social History of Museums: What the Visitors Thought by Kenneth Hudson

By Kenneth Hudson

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But when, as often happens in England, and, as I shall doubtless again experience, an impatient housekeeper rattles with her keys, one cannot of course be in the proper frame of mind, but must look at everything superficially, and with internal vexation. 27 With this temperament, Waagen must have suffered terrible frustrations in public art galleries, where there were dis- 30 A Social History of Museums tractions worse than a key-rattling housekeeper. Of some aspects of his English tour he was, however, a severe critic.

Or what thoughts should be going through his head? Are the only reputable thoughts those which are based on 'scientific research'? Is it right for museums to attempt to control people's responses? The present writer recalls an incident fifteen years ago in Bristol which illustrates admirably that, however determined and confident designers and planners may be, members of the public will react in their own individual, wilful, human way to what is set in front of them. The occasion in question was an exhibition to illustrate the workings and principles of nuclear reactors, arranged by the Central Electricity Generating Board.

Of Vegetables, they will thankfully receive every Kind, from the loftiest tree in the Forest, to the smallest Plant ofthe Fields. A complete Specimen of any Tree or Plant, will be two small Branches of each, one having the Flower in full Blossom, and the other the ripe Fruit. At the same Time the Society beg to be furnished with the best Accounts that can be given of the Uses and Virtues, either in Agriculture, Commerce, or Medicine, of which such Tree or Plant is possessed, the Soil in which it most commonly grows, the Season in which it flowers, and when it bears its Fruit.

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