Creative Curatorial Practice as a Means of Reorientating Display Tropes in Museums of Natural History

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Arts Research Africa
This paper provides a critical analysis of natural history museums and their display practices. It explores the contradictions inherent in the concept of “natural history” and the dominance over nature it implies. The paper argues that museums still promote authoritative classification and knowledge systems that reinforce hierarchical structures and colonial ideologies. The author, an artist-curator and printmaker, shares her experiences with three exhibitions that challenge traditional display methods. By disrupting linear progression, introducing complex interconnections, and emphasizing sensory experiences, the exhibitions aim to create alternative models of display that reflect the entangled and web-like nature of speciation. The goal is to move beyond colonial narratives and imagine new ways of representing and understanding the natural world within museum spaces.