A museum exhibition allows for close encounters with material objects.
However, the distancing effect of the glass surfaces of display cases, as well as twodimensional
text and picture panels, often seems to counteract the visitor’s sense of
experiencing the three-dimensional material qualities of museum objects. In order to
challenge this distancing effect, this article proposes an approach to spatial exhibition
design that takes material aspects of both museum objects and exhibition design
practices into close consideration. By developing the concept of material proximity,
the article investigates the intimate space between museum object and visitor in which
the object’s material qualities can be activated and interpreted. Based on an interdisciplinary
bridging between different concepts of materiality from museum studies
and architecture, the article concretizes the concept of material proximity through
empirical analysis of a series of experimental display designs carried out at Medical
Museion (the medical museum of the University of Copenhagen).