Working with words: Sprache und Ansprache im Museum

Johanna Schindler
Art Sciences and Art Education, Expanded Museum Studies
2023W, Vorlesung und Übungen (VU), 2.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S04831


With museums and art institutions revisiting their collections in relation to colonialism and funding structures, changing their organizational structures to be more inclusive, and developing exhibitions that appeal to a diverse audience, language is a major challenge: Language may reiterate discrimination or undo power relations, point out or create blind spots, include certain groups of people and different forms of knowledge and exclude others. Put differently, the language an institution uses and the issues it addresses (or omits) always reveal a certain attitude – both toward the institution’s audiences and toward its own structures. 

The aim of the class is to learn about and work on different types of texts that are used in museums everyday. Based on the course readings and sample texts from different museums, the following questions will be discussed: How do institutions take up discourses, and how do these discourses need to be translated for their mediation? How can gaps in knowledge and in existing vocabulary be dealt with? Which language is "the right one" to address diverse audiences, staff, funding bodies, and political actors alike?

Examination Modalities

Active participation in discussions and workshops (attendance of 80% of the class is mandatory)

Presentation of two short texts (each 1.000-2.000 characters) and one longer text (app. 4.000 characters) which are going to be written and edited in class.


Expanded Museum Studies students of all semesters may participate.

Maximum number of participants: 15

Key Words

Sprache, Museum, text


17 October 2023, 14:00–15:30 Seminar Room Postgasse (preliminary discussion)
31 October 2023, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room Postgasse
14 November 2023, 12:30–16:30 Seminar Room Postgasse , "Technisches Museum Wien, danach Postgasse"
28 November 2023, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room Postgasse
12 December 2023, 14:00–18:00 Seminar Room Postgasse , "incl. museum visit (tbd)"
09 January 2024, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room Postgasse
23 January 2024, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room Postgasse

Course Enrolment

Via online registration

Expanded Museum Studies (Master): Expanded Museum Studies: Expanded Museum Studies 537/002.01

Co-registration: possible

Attending individual courses: possible