Home    Number 5, 2022

Multimodal Approaches to the Study of Space Museums

[Mul’timodal’nye podkhody k izucheniiu kosmicheskikh muzeev]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522050025


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 30.07.2022

Accepted: 13.09.2022

About author(s)

Taylor R. Genovese | https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0102-6467 | taylor.genovese@asu.edu | Arizona State University (P.O. Box 870802, Tempe, AZ 85287-0802, USA)


multimodal anthropology, anthropological theory, ethnography, space museums, frontier


Although ethnographic modes other than writing have always existed within anthropological research, there has long been a growing epistemological tension in the discipline between writing and “other methods” – photography, film, sound, drawing, dance, etc. Proponents of these alternative methods practice what has recently been called “multimodal anthropology.” In this article, using fieldwork conducted at space museums in the US, I will show that multimodal methods are not only complementary to the written word, but essential tools of research in their own right. Multimodal approaches to participant observation and documentary analysis help contextualize the knowledge, theories, and experiences of both anthropologists and their interlocutors. Such collaborative experiences are particularly important for the study of space museums; these sites themselves are multimodal environments that rely on crafting visual, tactile, and performative spectacles for the public and, therefore, require ethnographic methods that go beyond written field notes. In this sense, space museums become liminal spaces for visitors, evoking affects and reflections about humanity’s place and purpose in the universe, about national victories in space, and about liberation from earthly gravity. A multimodal approach to research, particularly in space museums, allows for visual and performative anthropological methods to become a fundamental ethnographic craft, alongside writing.


Genovese, T.R. 2022. Mul’timodal’nye podkhody k izucheniiu muzeev kosmosа [Multimodal Approaches to the Study of Space Museums]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 5: 22–40. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541522050025 EDN: HZGMTG

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