Traditionally sight has been the only sense with a ticket to enter the museum. The same is true of histories of art, in which artworks are often presented as purely visual objects. In The Museum of the Senses Constance Classen offers a new way of approaching the history of art through the senses, revealing how people used to handle, smell and even taste collection pieces. Topics range from the tactile power of relics to the sensuous allure of cabinets of curiosities, and from the feel of a Rembrandt to the scent of Monet's garden. The book concludes with a discussion of how contemporary museums are stimulating the senses through interactive and multimedia displays.
Classen, a leading authority on the cultural history of the senses, has produced a fascinating study of sensual and emotional responses to artefacts from the middle ages to the present. The Museum of the Senses is an important read for anyone interested in the history of art as well as for students and researchers in cultural studies and museum studies.
Constance Classen is the author of The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch (2012) and The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender and the Aesthetic Imagination (1998), among other works. She currently serves as an associate on two international research projects on art and the senses.
List of Illustrations Acknowledgements Introduction 1. A Taste of Heaven: Relics and Rarities 2. The Feel of a Rembrandt: Paintings and Sculptures 3. The Lure of the Unseen: Egyptian Mummies 4. Conversation Pieces: The Arundel Collection 5. A Trail of Scent: The Afterlife of Collections 6. The Museum Retouched: From Empire of Sight to Sensory Playground References Index