Exhibiting fandom: A museological perspective

Dorus Hoebink, Stijn Reijnders, Abby Waysdorf


Fandom and the collecting of objects are interwoven phenomena. The insights of museum studies may be brought to bear on the study of fan objects to provide a better understanding of fan collections and fan collecting. A museum studies focus assesses the meanings and interpretations of material objects as well as the workings and dynamics of collections, collectors, and collecting. With science fiction fan collections used as examples, we highlight object and museum theory, demonstrating how this theory and its conceptual tools can be used to analyze fan culture. We then apply these tools to a case study: the EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington, a museum in the United States largely dedicated to the genre of science fiction. When fan collections enter the realm of museums, fandom becomes a world that involves touching, smelling, collecting, and controlling objects.


Collection theory; Fan collections; Museology; Museum theory; Object theory

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2014.0529

License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), ISSN 1941-2258, is an online-only Gold Open Access publication of the nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works. TWC is a member of DOAJ. Contact the Editor with questions.