Post-modernising the museum: The Ration Shed

Carly Smith


The application of postmodern critical theory to the essentially modernist construct of the museum has significantly impacted the role of the contemporary museum within society. This article briefly describes the movement toward a ‘new museology’ and the subsequent emergence of the ‘post-museum’. It then presents a case study of the Ration Shed Museum in the historical precinct of Cherbourg, Queensland, as an example of this new ‘post-museum’. Through its application of postmodern critical theory, the Ration Shed Museum has détourned the construct of the modernist museum and applied its cultural logics in order to meet the specific needs of its local community. This museum presents a history previously overlooked by western grand narratives and offers insight into a contemporary local indigenous community on its own terms. It presents a public pedagogy where the agency of both the viewer and the museum itself is embraced, and promotes active engagement – a form of dialogue – between the viewer, the community and the museum’s curators.

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Copyright (c) 2021 Carly Smith

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