image of Visitor experience as translation
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This paper explores the museum visitor experience as a form of translation. It argues that if a given exhibition can be seen as a cultural translation, then it is also true that the visitor’s reading of that exhibition constitutes a further layer of translation, as the visitor enacts their own transformation of the culture on display. The paper draws on intertextuality as a means to understand the ways in which this transformation occurs. It delineates a three-level typology of intertexts employed by the visitor and considers how the use of such intertexts constructs the visitor’s positionality in regard to the exhibition. The paper focuses on data from a diasporic museum, the Museum of Chinese in America, and applies a methodology involving analysis of TripAdvisor reviews and post-visit diaries to the online museum. The paper concludes that diaspora museums are a case in which the particular nexus of identity issues at work provide a more complex view of the visitor experience as translation.


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