Exhibiting fandom: A museological perspective

  • Dorus Hoebink Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Stijn Reijnders Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Abby Waysdorf Erasmus University Rotterdam
Keywords: Collection theory, Fan collections, Museology, Museum theory, Object theory


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.

Author Biography

Stijn Reijnders, Erasmus University Rotterdam
Associate Professor of Cultural Heritage Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication Erasmus University Rotterdam