Like the world exhibition, the department store, and the domestic interior, the museum is also one of Benjamin’s highlighted phantasmagoric “dream houses” of fetishized commodity culture. Although he has less to say about the museum as a space than he does about these other sites, the general position he adopts in relation to these other spaces is also present in his thinking about the museum as well. There is nothing in either of the exposé to The Arcades Project on the museum, and only one of the convolutes, L, “Dream House, Museum, Spa,” deals with the museum in any direct way. What he says is rather brief. Apart from a few references to wax museums, Benjamin only really makes two points about the museum as phantasmagoria. In the first instance he says:

He goes on, quoting Sigfried Gidion within his analysis:

In other words, Benjamin identifies the museum as a bourgeois space that is central to his analysis of the place of the past in capitalist society, yet he chooses to understand it by equating it with two other spaces: the bourgeois interior and the world exhibition. He does little more with this comment and does not develop his discussion of the museum, though he does have quite a lot more to say about one of the museum’s chief functions: collecting, albeit more through an analysis of the figure of the collector than the museum as a collecting institution (1999a, 2002). A bit further on in this convolute, he makes one further observation:

This is a wry comment, no doubt, but one that he does not develop further either. Indeed, more of this short convolute is taken up, counterintuitively at first glance, with an interest in the underground spaces of Paris (sewers, cemeteries, underground dwelling spaces, etc.) than it is with museums per se.1