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Asylum and the museum

Trustram, M (2014) Asylum and the museum. American Imago, 71. ISSN 0065-860X

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Abstract

Unlike other cultural forms, museums have escaped sustained attention from perspectives that call upon psychoanalysis. This essay uses psychoanalytic concepts to explore the psychodynamics of museums today, focusing on health and well-being projects run in museums in Manchester, U.K. Evoking the idea of the museum as an asylum, the essay argues that museums, like asylums, are places of loss and melancholia and calls upon object relations theories, including those of D.W. Winnicott and Christopher Bollas, to explore this idea. Museums' commitment to preservation and longevity is juxtaposed to the knowledge of mortality and the inward desire to break up objects. The essay argues that museums have the potential to contain, in all its meanings, not only physical objects but also the inner objects that those museum objects elaborate. © 2014 by The Johns Hopkins University Press.

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