Constructing Sacred History: Multi-Media Narratives and the Discourse of 'Museumness' at Mormon Temple Square
Journal of Media and Religion
Taylor & Francis
Two disparate streams of research (one emphasizing museums as texts, the other questioning the influence of religious institutions) suggest that as individuals participate in their own plausibility structures, they become resistant to hegemonic institutions attempting to “educate them.” However, the literature in museum studies suggests that museums have recently broadened their influence by appealing to the plausibility structures of visitors while maintaining credence as “museums.” None of the literature on plausibility structures and museums has examined this strategy at the level of a religious institution. This study examines such a strategy by applying a close-text analysis of a tourist-oriented exhibit at (Mormon) Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The analyzed exhibit emulates the strategy of postmodern museums aimed at catering to visitors' expectations. Moreover, the exhibit is replete with ahistorical Judeo-Christian archetypes and with LDS-centric constructs of masculinity.