Year of Award

2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Art

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Art History

Department or School/College

Art History

Committee Chair

Valerie Hedquist

Commitee Members

Jennifer Combe, Mattey Semanoff

Keywords

Amphora, Somatic, Museum, Institutional, Ocularcentric, Access

Publisher

University of Montana

Subject Categories

Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | Ancient Philosophy | Classical Archaeology and Art History | Theory and Criticism

Abstract

Physical experiences with ancient art objects in museums are rare. Display paradigms in most public institutions continue to propagate systems of participant interaction that reinforces unequal power structures. The Montana Musuem of Art and Culture (MMAC) is the current custodian of an ancient, Rhodian wine amphora that provides an opportunity to examine a novel system of somatic participation. This proposal upends traditional gatekeeping practices and serves as a powerful and progressive, humanist touchstone; an olive branch extended to the general public from behind the walls of higher education and the ramparts of privileged scholarship. This study reimagines the amphora's future custody and suggests a purely somatic method of display that dispenses with traditional, institutional supplementation. The MMAC’s potential somatic exhibition encourages touching the surface of a 2300-year-old artifact. This experiment offers museum goers a novel chance to create autonomous knowledge through touch while simultaneously bridging chasms in educational backgrounds and cultural privileges. This proposal draws on defensible and pertinent philosophical and theoretical positions to argue for a method of museum practice that will transform and decolonize audiences’ interactions with classical objects from a prescribed and narrow interplay into a more equitable and democratic interrelation. I illuminate a need for the objects that chronicle a segment of our shared history (classical objects in particular) to be made available to museum visitors for direct, physical touch.

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© Copyright 2021 Jerod G. Peitsmeyer