The language with displayed art: a multimodal perspective on the discourse of art

art museums.jpgStart:    Jan 16,   2019  17:00 PM
End:     Jan 16,   2019  18:30 PM

Location: Room 803, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way London WC1H 0AL

Do museums texts help visitors look more closely or deeply at the works on display?

Art museums typically invest a great deal of resource and effort in developing texts that will add to the experience visitors gain from “just looking”. But does this actually happen, and if so in what ways?

In this seminar, Dr Jennifer Blunden draws on recent theoretical developments in multimodal social semiotics and Systemic Functional Linguistics to explore these questions. Using data from her doctoral research and her research fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, including labels, audio guides, children’s trails and volunteer tours, she discusses how the different texts do very different kinds of work in terms of “adding to the looking”. She also considers how the theoretical concepts used in her analysis can be “operationalized” to provide a valuable toolkit for museums in both developing and evaluating museum texts.

About the speaker

Jennifer works and researches in the museum and cultural heritage sectors with a longstanding focus on communication, accessibility and public engagement. She is a research associate at the University of Technology Sydney and a creative producer in the Exhibitions Department of the State Library of NSW. She is currently undertaking a 12-month research residency at UCL Institute of Education carrying out a study of the discourse of art in museums.