The Century of the Self

As we discussed in class, the “self” is a relatively recent invention. It seems that this shift has had a profound influence particularly on western society as we know it today but also more specifically the role of the museum and expectations and perception of the visitor. It has forced the museum to adapt radically in order to successfully compete with contemporary forms of media/entertainment. The Century of the Self is BBC four-part documentary series by Adam Curtis which reveals the fascinating process of the ‘invention’ of public relations and the move from ‘need’ to a ‘desire’ based society. It shows the context within which museums have developed over the last century and indirectly why they are what they are today. You can watch the series on Google videos. Part 1 is called Happiness Machines. Enjoy!

RH

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One response to “The Century of the Self

  1. museumdesignlab

    I am really glad you picked up on this. Last year we watched the series and there is even a post on it with some discussion (see archive). I found the series pertinent to museums’ increasing focus on their audience’s needs and in general the complexities of identity in contemporary society. This series is a MUST for anyone exploring these issues.

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