Inderscience Publishers

The museum as visitor experience: displaying sacred Haitian Vodou objects

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In an age when religion and religious interpretation have become popular subjects for debate, the question emerges: how can museums fulfil their roles as managers of collections and interpreters of culturally sensitive Diaspora African objects? This research, 'The museum as a visitor experience: displaying sacred Haitian Vodou objects' discusses how museums can integrate the traditions of the past, the demands of the present and the opportunities for the future as they engage in a discourse about sacred objects in a museum context. It uses the 'Vodou' exhibition at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands as a case study. The research looks at the museum experience from a visitor's point of view. It integrates qualitative research and draws from fields such as the 'experience economy' and 'museum studies'. This paper provides an insight into the visitor's interpretation of Haitian sacred objects and the sacred nature of non-religious objects. It covers a range of topics including design criteria for representing spirituality to visitors and sharing authority with source communities.

Keywords: religious tourism, religion, museum studies, visual culture, sacred objects, Voodoo objects, Haiti, Haitian Vodou, non-religious objects

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