The dream space, writes Sheldon Annis, is the reflective experience of encountering yourself within a museum. In Memory and the Museum, Gaynor Kavanaugh argues that dream spaces are the point at which our inner and outer experiences meld. During the museum visit, memory and the present cease to be disparate but fuse into one singular experience. Drawing from such fields as behavioral gerontology, applied psychology, and historiography, Kavanaugh employs research from North America, Australia, and Europe to provide a critical and conceptual exploration into museums and the mind.
Bringing together theory from disparate fields, including behavioural gerontology, counselling and therapy, applied psychology and historiography, and drawing on research from the UK, the USA and Europe, this is a multi-faceted study of memory and the museum. It explores what Sheldon Annis referred to as the "dream space", the non-rational, affective and reflective experience of encountering material and ourselves within the museum and, for the purpose of this book, within the processes and procedures of making history in museums. It examines the theory of "dream space" in the context of the practical world of museums where so many of the issues of memory, the life span and their connections are brought into sharp focus.
The book has four parts: the relationship of memory to history and the changing place of memory within historiographic and museological theory; the dynamics of memory and its employment in the construction of social knowledge of the past through the medium of exhibitions - in essence, memory as product; the experience of remembering in the museum or through access to museum collections -that is memory as process; and the interplay of product and process experienced in the visit and in educational activities.