The purpose of this paper is to explore a certain kind of museum experience—the numinous experience—a deeply connective, transcendental encounter one may have with a museum object, site, or exhibit. A model, borrowed from reader response theory, is illustrated in order to aid in the exploration of these deeply moving museum experiences. Louise Rosenblatt's Transactional Theory of the Literary Work is an effective model—even beyond the world of reading text—in understanding these encounters that may occur between an object, a museum visitor, and the situation in which they come together. In the art world, these moments are well-known as aesthetic experiences. It is through Rosenblatt's model of experiencing the poem, a broad understanding of an aesthetic encounter, that we can begin to place the numinous experience into the broader range of human experience with material culture.
Museum Management and Curatorship
Latham, Kiersten F (2007). The Poetry of the Museum: A Holistic Model For Numinous Museum Experiences. Museum Management and Curatorship 22(3) 247-263. doi: 10.1080/09647770701628594. Retrieved from https://oaks.kent.edu/slispubs/54