Translation and the museum. Exploring the impact of museum translation on climate change narratives.

01 October 2020 → 30 September 2024
Regional and community funding: Special Research Fund
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Museum studies
    • Translation and interpretation sciences
memory translation cultural translation space museology climate change museum of natural history
Project description

In recent years, climate change has not only become a major topic in scientific discourse but also in many other areas, including as a focus of displays in museums. Museum exhibitions represent climate change, sometimes to display or discuss knowledge, sometimes to motivate environmental action.  

The present project proposes a transnational comparative study of Natural History museums to look at how they construct narratives about nature’s past and present to invite international visitors to learn about climate change. Building on previous research on Memory museums, it questions whether environmental memory is mobilized in museums to motivate positive environmental action in the present. 

Museums can be considered as “translation spaces,” places of heightened language awareness and intense cultural transaction. Therefore, translation is used as a framework for this research and is analyzed as both a metaphorical transfer process and an interlingual activity. Museums “translate” stories for their visitors through the selection and combination of objects and texts, and through various scenographic strategies; but as touristic destinations, they also resort to translation “proper” to cater to different language user needs. The study thus combines a broad metaphorical perspective with a micro-level analysis of translated texts towards the study of environmental narratives in museums.