Each thing in its place: essay on the interpretation of a history museum's speech

José Bittencourt About the author

The National History Museum (Museu Histórico Nacional), in Rio de Janeiro, was created in 1922, as part of the commemorations of Brazil's Independence Centennial party. Throughout the next 38 years, it has been run by Gustavo Barroso. This intellectual person, a typical character of the Brazilian “ republic of the letters”, left a personal mark in the MHN (the museum), crystallized in the conservative discourse expressed in the exhibitions. Based in Carlos Ginzburg's theoretical formulations, as presented in an article entitles “ Signs - routes of an indicting paradigm”, as well as in various essays about museums as discourse, the author analyses the exhibition in the MHN in the 30's, 40's and 50's. Getting an additional support in the scientific production of the conservatives, published in books and in the institutional magazine, the “ Annals of the National History Museum (“Anais do Museu Histórico Nacional”), tries to see the exhibition circuit as a representation of the positions filled by the “active agents of History” - aristocracy, civil and military public workers, among other categories - in relation to a category which is not clearly defined, the “people”, which was represented by its absence.

Museums; Museology; Material Culture; History of the Exhibitions; National History Museum (Rio de Janeiro)

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