While the existence of uncritical exhibition practices that support nostalgic narratives about the past cannot be denied, this paper is focused on demonstrating both the existence of critical exhibitions and on explaining how they work. In particularly, this paper looks at the ways in which the production of affective, nonrational forms of experience aimed at inducing a heightened level of engagement on the part of visitors is being used to facilitate a more critical reflection on the relationship between past and present. My examples, drawn from curatorial practices in Australia dealing either with contact histories or histories of migration, will be used to explore how explicit forms of engagement with the senses in contemporary exhibition practices gesture toward not only a new understanding of the pedagogical role of museums but also to new forms of pedagogical practice.
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