Centering the Museum : Writings for the Post-Covid Age book cover
1st Edition

Centering the Museum
Writings for the Post-Covid Age

ISBN 9780367560447
Published September 27, 2021 by Routledge
318 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Drawing on Elaine Heumann Gurian’s fifty years of museum experience, Centering the Museum calls on the profession to help visitors experience their shared humanity and find social uses for public buildings, in order to make museums more central and useful to everyone in difficult times.

Following the same format as Civilizing the Museum, this new volume includes material written especially for a re-emergent time and relevant public lectures not included in the author’s previous book. Divided into six separate content clusters, with over twenty different essays, the book identifies many small, subtle ways museums can become welcoming to more—and to all. Drawing on her extensive experience as a deputy director, senior advisor to high-profile government museums, lecturer and teacher around the world, the author provides recommendations for inclusive actions by intertwining sociological thinking with practical decision-making strategies. Writing reflectively, Elaine also provides heritage students and professionals with insights that will help move their careers and organizations into more equitable, yet successful, terrain.

Centering the Museum will be an excellent companion volume to Civilizing the Museum and, as such, will be a useful support for emerging museum leaders. It will be especially interesting to academics and students engaged in the study of cultural administration, as well as museum and heritage practitioners working around the world.

Table of Contents

Foreward: Americo Castilla, President, Fundacion TyPA, Argentina;  Acknowledgments;  Introduction: Centering the Museum;  Museum Basics: My Museum Definition and Principles;  Part I: The Museum Visitor's Exhibition Quest: Personalization, Complexity, And Multiple Outcomes;  1. The Essential Museum: Decoupling the Content from the Object, 2006;  2. Introducing the Blue Ocean Museum: A Layered Installation of the Nearly Immediate Future, 2007;  3. The Importance Of "And": Using Complexity Theory to Counter Simple Exhibitions, 2017;  Part II: Museum Administrative Practice Must Mirror Philosophy: Fairness and Justice Toward Staff;  4. Institutional Trauma: The Effect of Major Change on Staff, 1989, revised 2020;  5. Brave Directors: The Profile of the Exceptionally Just Director, 2006;  6. Boston Stories: Lessons from the Past Practice of the Boston Children's Museum, 2008;  7. Curator: From Soloist to Impresario: Reforming the Curators' Relationship to Information, 2009;  8. Wanting to be Third on Your Block: How the "Classic" Director Creates Change, 2009;  9. Intentional Civility: Reexamining our Assumptions of Staff, Visitors, Community and Content, 2012;  Part III: Museums Have Agency: Useful Activism in Museums;  10. Babar: Controversy Surrounding Time and Context, 2010;  11. Museum as Soup Kitchen: Museums as Venues for SocialServi ce, 2009;  12. Maybe This Time: A Personal Journey Toward Racial Equity in Museums, 2016;  13. Modeling Decency, Sir!: Intentionally Welcoming Visitors of Political Opposition is a Vital Task of Inclusion, 2017;  Part IV: Museums' Obligation to Provide Public Space: Placing Museums in a Broadened Civic Sphere;  14. One Meter Square: A Poetic Essay about the Importance of Humble Pieces of Civic Land, 2010;  15. Public Spaces for Strangers: How Museums' Physical Assets Should Contribute to Communal Peace, 2017;  Part V: Museums are Part of Larger Systems: Dissolving Boundaries to provide Coordinated Society-wide Benefits;  16. Museum Opportunities Through Another's Eyes: Michael Hulme and Climate Change, 2011;  17. Expanding the Known: Museums Should Join in Education Devolution Reform, 2013;  Part VI: Memoir Snippets: The Professional Uses of Personal Experience;  18. Thinking About My Museum Journey: Lessons learned and Lists of Fundamental Concern, 1999;  19. Activism from the Inside: A Family Teaches Political Awareness, 1985;  20. The Museum Family: An Award Speech About Invented Relatives, 2004;  21. How Mentoring Works, 1984;  22. The Role of Consultants, 2003;  23. What I Learned from Children, 1984; 24. Gay in Multiple Parts, 2000 revised 2020;  25. My Charge to the Next Generation: A List of Personal Advice, 2017;  Conclusion: Centering, the Finale: A Reflection on the Covid Time, 2020

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Elaine Heumann Gurian has worked in the museum field since 1968, first as a community activist, then a director of museum education, and subsequently a professional deputy director for institutions dedicated to social justice and during the process of transforming themselves to address and embrace formerly marginalized groups.