Redesigning the Space of Museums at the Time of the Pandemic: a Semiotic Analysis
Far from being neutral containers, museums have the function to exhibit the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity (ICOM, 2019) in a rational order and within a regulated framework of complex symbolic apparatus: totems or explanatory panels, illustrations, and signs. Covid-19 has acted as magnifying glass on the role, structure and function of museums: they were forced to cope with the sudden closures and to react radically rethinking themselves, their spaces and visitor experience. It is precisely these strategies that we have focused on in this article. How have healthcare emergency signage and protocols contributed to redefining museum spaces? How has the symbolic apparatus of the museum changed? How has viewer experience changed? Can these changes represent a stimulus for a more general reflection on museum function in service of society even after the pandemic? This paper endeavours to answer these questions by combining the methodological tools of linguistic landscape with those of sociosemiotics and visual and spatial semiotics.