Re/search and re/semblance: browse and play in the service of find and resolve

Catherine Styles, Sembl, Australia

Search. Diligent, rational, convergent search. It’s what you do, again and again, when you have a question, when you conduct research. It’s not the only path to knowledge – it may not even be the best path – yet it dominates the will-to-know, shaping our tools, our minds, and our displays of museum collections.

This presentation will highlight the epistemological dominance of search, lament the parallel suppression of more playful and intuitive ways of knowing, and introduce a collections-based game of analogy designed to help redress this imbalance.

Formal paper
(concluding with an invitation to play)


Bennett, Tony. 1988. “Museums and the People.” In The Museum Time Machine. London: Routledge.

———. 1995. The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics. London: Routledge.

Crimp, Douglas. 1993. On the Museum’s Ruins. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Flatow, Ira. 2013. “EO Wilson’s Advice for Future Scientists.” NPR.

Foucault, Michel. 1970. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Random House.

Friedman, Thomas. 2012. “Come the Revolution.” New York Times, May 16.

Gerald, George. 1990. “The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men: Observations on Going Astray.” In Visiting History. Washington DC: American Association of Museums.

Huizinga, Johan. 1955. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. Boston: Beacon Press.

Jones, Jane Peirson. 1992. “Colonial Legacy and the Community: The Gallery 33 Project.” In Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Karp, Ivan. 1992a. “Introduction: Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture.” In Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

———. 1992b. “On Civil Society and Social Identity.” In Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Koestler, Arthur. 1975. The Act of Creation: A Study of the Conscious and Unconscious Processes in Humor, Scientific Discovery and Art. London: Pan Books.

Kolko, Jon. 2010. “Abductive Thinking and Sensemaking: The Drivers of Design Synthesis”. In MIT’s Design Issues, 26(1).

Lohman, Jack. 2011. “Preface.” In Panamanian Museums and Historical Memory. Museums and Diversity. Oxford: Museum of London and Berghahn Books.

MacDonald, Sharon. 1996. “Theorizing Museums: An Introduction.” In Theorizing Musuems: Representing Diversity in a Changing World. Oxford: Blackwell in conjunction with the Sociological Review.

Merriman, Nick. 1989. “Museum Visiting as a Cultural Phenomenon.” In The New Museology. London: Reaktion Books.

Palmer, Amanda. 2013. “Connecting the Dots.” In The Muse and the Marketplace. Grub Street.

Popova, Maria. 2011. “Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial Creativity.” Brain Pickings.

———. 2012. “How Intuition and the Imagination Fuel ‘Rational’ Scientific Discovery and Creativity: A 1957 Guide.” Brain Pickings.

Roppola, Tiina. 2012. Designing for the Museum Visitor Experience. Routledge Research in Museum Studies. New York and London: Routledge.

Shapiro, Jordan. 2013. “How Game-Based Learning Can Save the Humanities.” Forbes.

Silverstone, Roger. 1994. “The Medium Is the Museum: On Objects and Logics in Times and Spaces.” In Towards the Museum of the Future: New European Perspectives. London and New York: Routledge.

Tchen, John Kuo Wei. 1992. “Creating a Dialogic Museum: The Chinatown HIstory Museum Experiment.” In Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Warner, Marina. 2011. Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights. London: Random House.

Way, J. Edson. 1993. “The Modern Gallery Exhibition as a Form of Western-indigenous Discourse.” In Imagery and Creativity: Ethnoaesthetics and Art Worlds in the Americas. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Whitelaw, Mitchell. 2009. “Exploring A1: Items to Documents.”

Zimmerman, Eric, and Heather Chaplin. 2013. “Manifesto: The 21st Century Will Be Defined by Games.” Kotaku.