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Objets de patrimoine, objets de curiosité : Le statut des objets extra-occidentaux dans l’exposition permanente du musée du quai Branly

Abstract : Until today, the question of the status of objects from non-Western societies preserved in Western museums wasraised, in terms of twentieth century paradigms which associated ethnographic and aesthetic status, and whichpresupposed objects to have an intrinsic status of their own. The controversy amongst anthropological andmuseum communities caused by the announcement of the Quai Branly museum project testifies to thesepresuppositions. This thesis aims to re-elaborate the approach to non-Western objects through an extrinsicapproach to their status. It rests on two subsequent semiotic analyses of the permanent exhibition of the QuaiBranly Museum. The first one analyzes separately and exhaustively the space, texts, pictures and audiovisualmaterial as media categories of the exhibition. The second one analyzes, in a restricted corpus of exhibitionunits, the interactions between different media categories with the goal of identifying the interpretative processeswhich produce the sense of the objects. The purpose of this double analysis is to verify whether the permanentexhibition of the Quai Branly Museum a heritage status to the objects from non-Western societies which itpreserves.The first part of the thesis presents the construction of the research question, focused on the heritage status ofnon-Western objects in museums, and explains the methods implemented to answer such a question. The secondpart, devoted to the results of the separate media categories’ analysis, confirms that the labels necessary to theassignment of heritage status to non-Western objects, the elsewhere world origin and museum world origin, areindeed present in the exhibition. It also shows the particular mobilization of space in the exhibition. Together,these two sections encourage us to theorize that space is not a mode of interpretation for objects, in that the“elsewhere” world origin and the museum world origin have but a secondary place in the assignment of objectstatus, while objects are themselves the main means for object interpretation. Finally, the third part verifies thatthe attestation of the objects’ double world of origin is effectively authenticated in the exhibition ; this sectionshows that, while the exhibition does assign a heritage status to the exhibits, the elements of authentification arenot necessary for the interpretation of the objects’ meaning, whereas the meaning produced by the relationshipbetween objects promotes the assignment of yet another object status : the status of curiosity. This thesis,focused on the production of object meaning for the visitor by means of the exhibition display, more broadlysuggests the exhibition’s ability to provide a neutral view which modifies its operativity, an ability which allowsthe museum to delegate the production of the object’s meaning to visitors.
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Submitted on : Monday, December 16, 2013 - 4:53:28 PM
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Gaëlle Lesaffre. Objets de patrimoine, objets de curiosité : Le statut des objets extra-occidentaux dans l’exposition permanente du musée du quai Branly. Sciences de l'information et de la communication. Université d'Avignon, 2011. Français. ⟨NNT : 2011AVIG1115⟩. ⟨tel-00919401⟩



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