Miniature objects from non-European contexts have ideological elements which are often overlooked in the museum space because their small size and iconic relations make them difficult to accurately interpret and disrupt curatorial efforts to impose meaning upon them; a situation I term miniature dissonance. This article will examine this phenomenon using three related case studies featuring miniatures from the Northwest Coast of North America. It will consider what might have been misunderstood in these objects and what they might originally have been intended to achieve, followed by an example from a recent Ancient Egyptian exhibition which demonstrates that this problem is both more widespread and problematic than is often recognised. These miniatures disrupt curatorial intentionality in the museum space, and it is only by carefully considering their origins and affordances that they can be adequately and accurately interpreted and displayed.
- Northwest Coast