Cultural feelings are an undertheorised area of the human experience which are recently gaining attention and which need to be understood in the context of museum visitor studies where they are largely ignored. Drawing on a long-term narrative study of global visitors to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa), this paper unearths the conditions of meaning-making or hermeneutic foundations that facilitate the subsequent processes of meaning-making or interpretations. It argues that the engagement with a museum space starts on a sensory, emotive and embodied level. Visitors’ narrations of their visit to the museum reveal that emotions and feelings are not separate stages of the museum experience but are continuously interwoven with intellectual and interpretive processes. Importantly, the empirical evidence shows that certain meanings remain on an embodied level as an ‘internal understanding’ and resist any verbal ‘expressibility’. The conditions flow into the processes of meaning-making during cross-cultural encounters within the material museum world. Here, feelings enter into the realm of culture and thus into the experience of heritage.
Field of Research
210202 Heritage and Cultural Conservation 210204 Museum Studies
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