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Voicing the Museum Artefact

Author(s): Sarah Byrne

Journal: Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies
ISSN 2049-4572

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 23;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: voice | Melanesia | museum | object | Hymes

Everywhere you look or indeed listen these days, museums from the local to the national are calling on various communities to engage with their collections through the spoken word. This paper reflects on the efficacy and capacity of the human voice in translating, transforming and transposing the museum artefact and considers the voice as its own mode of translation of material culture. It focuses on two very different case studies whereby conversations in and around museum objects were generated – the Melanesia Project at the British Museum and the Sense of Place project in Wapping, East London. Drawing off Dell Hymes’ S-P-E-A-K-I-N-G model, I consider both the significance of these vocal engagement and intellectual challenges they set in motion for the museum. 
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