The Museum Lobby as a Transformative Space.

Drotner, K., Knudsen, L.V., E. Kristiansen, D. Laursen (2011). The Museum Lobby as a Transformative Space.. The transformative museum: DREAM conference, 23 - 5 May, 2012Erik Kristiansen (Ed.). , 445-467Roskilde, Odense: DREAM.

Abstract: Museums are often portrayed as either examples of monumental architecture or as a collections of artifacts, but the lobby is a special space as it, at the same time performs both as “museum” and “not-museum.” It is “museum” because it is part of the building that houses the exhibition and “not museum,” because it is not part of the exhibition. It is a transition zone which links the exhibition with the surrounding world, and as such it plays an important, but overlooked function (cf. Carlsson & Ågren 1982). In this paper we demonstrate that the lobby can be regarded a space that transforms the incoming people to museum visitors, and again when they leave the museum to non-visitors (if they leave through the lobby). This transition is supported by a series of services provided by the museum (wardrobe, toilets, shop, information etc.) which let the visitors perform their transition, through acts of different kinds of performances in order to make the museum their own (cf. Wallace, 2006). We use a theoretical framework based on the notion of liminality and ritual (Turner, 1982), heterotopias (Foucault, 1984), and the understanding of the art museum as ritual (Duncan 1991, 1995). Our research studies the transformation from a user perspective, that is how visitors perform the transformations in the lobby. To support our hypothesis we have conducted observation studies in the lobbies of five museums in Denmark, This opens for a discussion on future possibilities of how the lobby can further be developed in order to support the visitor transformation. Proceedings