[Multimodality Talks series] Museums and communication in the 21st Century

Date and Time: Fri, April 21, 2023, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM BST

Speaker: Prof. Lousie Ravelli, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Place: online via Zoom (register to receive the link)

To attend the talk please register here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/multimodality-talks-prof-louise-ravelli-tickets-471022680517

To watch the recorded talk, please see here: https://video.su.se/media/Multimodality+talks+-+Louise+Ravelli/0_e5ym9o7n.


Museums are ‘semiotic entities’, complex multimodal assemblages which need to be understood from the level of organisational identity down to the ways such institutions ‘speak’ to and with their publics. A critically-important part of this assemblage is the built environment of the museum itself, including its physical and digital materiality, and in recent decades, a number of new trends have emerged in museum design. From the building of many new, architecturally ‘iconic’ buildings, to dramatic renovations of existing buildings, to exhibition practices which foreground visitor engagement, much has shifted in comparison with classical and modernist trends. This paper will use Spatial Discourse Analysis (Ravelli and McMurtrie, 2016) to interrogate how these changes both instantiate and contribute to shifting societal trends, and to highlight some of the consequent gains and losses. While new practices tend to co-exist with, rather than replace, earlier ones, I will argue that they nevertheless need careful attention, in order to more fully investigate the communicative potential of museums in the 21st Century.


Ravelli, L. and McMurtrie, R. (2016) Multimodality in the built environment: Spatial Discourse Analysis. London: Routledge


Louise Ravelli is Professor of Communication in the School of the Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales, Australia and Joint Chief Editor of the journal, Visual Communication. She has a long-standing interest in understanding how language, images and other modalities – including spatial design – work in communication contexts, using multimodal discourse analysis and systemic-functional linguistics. Books include Multimodality in the Built Environment: Spatial Discourse Analysis (Routledge, 2016, with Robert McMurtrie), Museum Texts: Communication Frameworks (Routledge, 2006), and Doctoral Writing in the Creative and Performing Arts (Libri UK, 2014, with Brian Paltridge and Sue Starfield).


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