Notes on The Delirious Musuem

I recently read The Delirious Museum by architect and exhibition designer Calum Storrie. Here's some of my favourite bits. ----

Introduction pg 3: Robert Venuri:

"I am for messy vitality over obvious unity. I include the non-sequitur and proclaim the duality. I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning; for the implicit function as well as the explicit function. I prefer 'both-and' to 'either-or', black and white, and sometimes gray, to black or white."


pg 67: Samson by Chris Burden is a piece of art that pushes apart the gallery it's in as visitors enter through a turnstile.


pg 138: This is Gipsoteca Canoviana in Possagno, Italy. A building designed by Carlo Scarpa which houses the working plaster models for sculptures. The space is a very simple cube but has the corners removed and skylights/windows (Scarpa described them as 'fragments of sky') installed instead. I really like this deconstruction/dismantling of the gallery space.


pg 151: The Museum of Unlimited Growth was designed by Le Corbusier in 1939. It attempts to solve the problem of a museum building which has an expanding collection (as most museums do). Visitors are directed through a channel in one side and arrive in the centre of the spiral structure from where they can explore the galleries and rooms. The museum can be expanding by adding more spiral over time. I love the idea of a never ending museum- a continuing process. Or even better one which is both complete (it is a complete building) and in process at the same time (it can be added to when needed).



Jean Baudrillard, The System of Objects, translation: James Benedict, Verso, London, 2005. Part B, Ch. 2: A Marginal System: Collecting. "Littre's dictionary defines 'objet' in one of it's meanings as 'anything which is the cause or subject of a passion; figuratively - and par excellence - the loved object'."

"If i use a refrigerator to refrigerate, it is a practical mediation: it is not an object but a refrigerator. And in that sense i do not possess it. A utensil is never possessed, because a utensil refers one to the world; what is possessed is always an object abstracted from its function and thus brought into relationship with the subject."

"At on extreme, the strictly practical object acquires a social status: this is the case with the machine.  At the opposite extreme, the pure object, devoid of any function or completely abstracted from its use, takes on a strictly subjective status: it becomes part of a collection. It ceases to be a carpet, a table, a compass or a knick knack and becomes an object in the sense in which a collector will say 'a beautiful object' rather than specifying it, for example, as 'a beautiful statuette'. An object no longer specified by its function is defined by the subject, but in the passionate abstractness of possession all objects are equivalent. And just one object no longer suffices: the fulfillment of the project of possession always means a succession or even a complete series of objects."

"Only a more or less complex organization of objects, each of which refers to all the others, can endow each with an abstractness such that the subject will be able to grasp it in that lived abstractness which is the experience of possession."

"Collecting, however offers a model here: through collecting, the passionate pursuit of possession finds fulfillment and the everyday prose of objects is transformed into poetry, into a triumphant unconscious discourse."

"Collectors are forever saying that they are 'crazy about' this or that object, and they all without exception - even where the perversion of fetishism plays no part - cloak their collection in an atmosphere of clandestineness and concealment, of secrecy and sequestration, which in every way suggests a feeling of guilt. It is this passionate involvement which lends a touch of the sublime to the regressive activity of collecting; it is also the basis of the view that anyone who does not collect something is 'nothing but a moron, a pathetic human wreck'(M. Fauron, president of the cigar-band collectors' association, in Liens, May 1964)"

"Collecting is thus qualitative in its essence and quantitative in its practice."

"In the words of Muarice Rheims: 'For man, the object is a sort of insentient dog which accepts his blandishments and returns them after his own fashion, or rather which returns them like a mirror faithful not to real images but to images that are desired. (Rheims, La vie etrange des objets, pg 50)"

"The unique object is in fact simply the final term, the one which sums up all the others, that it is the supreme component in an entire paradigm (albeit a virtual, invisible or implicit one) - that it is, in short, the emblem of the series."

"The object obtains exceptional value only by virtue of its absence."