The Enlightenment Gallery: British Museum Descriptive Essay by ClemenceD

A curatorial report concerning the British Museum's Enlightenment Gallery, Room 1.
# 151842 | 4,504 words | 22 sources | MLA | 2012 | GB
Published on Oct 14, 2012 in Art (Museums)

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This paper discusses how the Enlightenment Gallery, which opened in 2003, concentrates on the age of Enlightenment, an era when reason and learning flourished across Europe and America, which lasted, visitors are told in the panels at the entrances, from about 1680 to 1820. The writer provides an analysis of its display and curatorial aims including major themes of the display and their realization. The paper also examines its display philosophy as well as constraints and financial issues. Numerous footnotes are included in the paper.

Stage 1: Analysis of Display/Curatorial Aims
Major Theme(S) Of The Display And Its (Their) Realisation
Development Of Intellectual Arguments, Or Thematic/Interpretative Aims Of The Display, Through Practical Choices
Relation Of The Display To Adjacent Rooms And Other Display Areas
Stage 2: Display Contexts
Status, Location, Aims And Audiences Of The Institution
Relation Of The Display To The Needs Of (An) Audience(S)
Condition Of The Display
Variation And Change In The Interpretations Of The Subject Area; Engagement Of The Display With Current Curatorial/Art Historical Debates
Stage 3: Practical Constraints
Physical Constraints Of The Display
Influence Of Security And Supervisory Issues In The Display
Influence Of Conservation Issues In The Display
Influence In The Choice Of Lighting
Budgetary Constraints/Sponsorship

; development of intellectual arguments, or interpretative aims of the display, through practical choices; relation of the display to adjacent rooms and other display areas. 2. Display Contexts: status, location, aims and audiences of the institution; relation of the display to the needs of audiences; condition of the display; variation and change in the interpretations of the subject area; engagement of the display with current curatorial/art historical debates (two case studies: The Natural World and Classifying the World: The Revolution in Science). 3. Practical Constraints: physical constraints of the display; influence of security and supervisory issues in the display; influence of conservation issues in the display; influence in the choice of lighting; budgetary constraints; sponsorship. Included: List of illustrations, bibliography, Internet resources.

From the Paper:

"The main entrance of the permanent exhibition is supposed to be the central one, coming from the Great Court. Yet, as visitors experience the gallery, whether coming from the West entrance, the South or the North entrances, there is no real sense of visit, no real prescribed route through the display. On another hand, the cases are numbered from the South to the North: would this suggest there is a direction to follow? Rather not, as it appears to be a random choice of numbering of the cases. The general first impression that visitors get from the gallery is that the visit should start by the central part of the gallery: both from a curatorial (the display is not a historical one, no demon-stration in space related to time) and an educational point of view (the theme in the central part, "Classifying the World" seems to encompass and introduce the others). Moreover, rather aesthetically, it is a more enthralling experience that that of entering from one side of the gallery and see the whole of it at once, instead of one half of the gallery at a time. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Saule, Beatrix, Catherine Arminjon, eds., Sciences & curiosites a la cour de Versailles, exh. cat.; Chateau de Versailles, Versailles, 26 Oct. 2010 - 27 Feb. 2011 (Paris: RMN Editions ; Versailles: Chateau de Versailles, 2010).
  • Sloan, Kim, Andrew Burnett, eds., Enlightenment: Discovering the World in the Eighteenth Century, exh. cat.; British Museum, London (London: The British Museum Press, 2003).
  • Accessing Enlightenment: Study Pack (London: The British Museum Press, 2003?).
  • Butler, Robert, 'Simon Sainsbury,' The Independent (2006 / 4 October), uk/news/obituaries/simon-sainsbury-418613.html, accessed 21/05/12.
  • Jones, Jonathan, 'Return to the modern world,' The Guardian (2003 /13 December), http://www., accessed 14/05/12.

Cite this Descriptive Essay:

APA Format

The Enlightenment Gallery: British Museum (2012, October 14) Retrieved December 09, 2022, from

MLA Format

"The Enlightenment Gallery: British Museum" 14 October 2012. Web. 09 December. 2022. <>