The Spectacle of Trauma: 9/11 in the Museum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With increasing frequency, museums have begun to incorporate spectacular and traumatic media imagery into exhibition space. Such images, like those depicting the beating of Rodney King or the attacks of September 11, rivet the nation and so their appeal to institutions concerned, as museums are, with the maintenance and consolidation of collective memory is understandable. The practice of displaying this imagery, however, should not be taken for granted and calls for analysis. “The Spectacle of Trauma: 9/11 in the Museum” questions whether or not the museum ably interprets the media world or simply reproduces it. In practice, incorporating elements of spectacularized news events into exhibition displays at best discourages critical thinking and at worst advances a flat and mystifying view of history.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-170
Number of pages16
JournalVisual Resources
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005


  • mass media
  • nationalism
  • spectacle
  • museums
  • exhibitions
  • September 11
  • Nationalism
  • Exhibitions
  • Museums
  • Mass media
  • Spectacle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Museology


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