Skip to main content
The Poetry of the Museum: A Holistic Model For Numinous Museum Experiences
Museum Management and Curatorship
  • Kiersten F Latham, Kent State University - Kent Campus
Publication Date
Document Type
  • visitor studies,
  • museum visitor experience,
  • transactional,
  • numinous,
  • aesthetic experience,
  • museum exhibitions,
  • museum collections,
  • public programs
The purpose of this paper is to explore a certain kind of museum experience—the numinous experience—a deeply connective, transcendental encounter one may have with a museum object, site, or exhibit. A model, borrowed from reader response theory, is illustrated in order to aid in the exploration of these deeply moving museum experiences. Louise Rosenblatt's Transactional Theory of the Literary Work is an effective model—even beyond the world of reading text—in understanding these encounters that may occur between an object, a museum visitor, and the situation in which they come together. In the art world, these moments are well-known as aesthetic experiences. It is through Rosenblatt's model of experiencing the poem, a broad understanding of an aesthetic encounter, that we can begin to place the numinous experience into the broader range of human experience with material culture.
Citation Information
Kiersten F Latham. "The Poetry of the Museum: A Holistic Model For Numinous Museum Experiences" Museum Management and Curatorship Vol. 22 Iss. 3 (2007) p. 247 - 263
Available at: