Museum and Gallery Studies: The Basics is an accessible guide for the student approaching Museum and Gallery Studies for the first time. Taking a global view, it covers the key ideas, approaches and contentious issues in the field. Balancing theory and practice, the book address important questions such as:
- What are museums and galleries?
- Who decides which kinds of objects are worthy of collection?
- How are museums and galleries funded?
- What ethical concerns do practitioners need to consider?
- How is the field of Museum and Gallery Studies developing?
This user-friendly text is an essential read for anyone wishing to work within museums and galleries, or seeking to understand academic debates in the field.
Table of Contents
What this book will do
Who is this book for?
What are museum and gallery studies?
Museum and gallery studies around the world
‘Theory’ and ‘practice’?
Why study museums and galleries?
Culture as ‘soft power’
Chapter 1: First principles
What is a museum or gallery? *
Origins of museums
The Louvre: a turning point
Museum development: nationalism and colonialism
Do all cultures have museums?
Can anyone call any space ‘a museum’?
What is an art gallery? What is an art museum or a museum or art?
How many different kinds of museums and galleries are there?
What are museums and galleries for?
Why do societies have museums and galleries?
Heritage as institution, adjective or tradition
Elite or ‘everyone’s’ heritage
Chapter 2: Collecting and Collections
Curating and collecting
Collecting the past
Reconceptualising the discipline of ‘history’
Acknowledging your own standpoint
Tradition versus history
Collecting ‘the present’ for the future
Collecting historical art
Collecting contemporary art
Collecting the intangible
Collecting the digital
The lives of objects
Acquisitioning and accessioning
Disposal and de-accessioning
Priceless objects and ‘market value’
Regimes of Value: Exchanges and Exclusions
Protecting the nation’s interest: exports of cultural property
Managing and caring for collections
Conservation, preservation or restoration?
Chapter 3: Visitors and Audiences
Who are museums and galleries for?
Who visits museums and galleries? Understanding visitor profiles and global trends
Understanding the statistics: an example
Does it make a difference if museums are free or charge?
Why do people visit? Understanding visitor motivations.
What is the difference between audiences, visitors and communities?
Understanding ‘non-visitors’ motivations
Understanding access, and barriers to access
Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital
Are museums and galleries ‘white spaces’?
Visiting patterns in relationship to staff demographics
Inclusion initiatives and policy agendas
Building new audiences through community engagement
Models of ‘community engagement’
If communities can tell their own histories do we still need curators?
Is working digitally one answer?
Chapter 4: The Business of Culture
Who pays for what, for whom, and on whose behalf?
What it costs: capital and revenue
External funding sources: the state, the lottery, charities, donors, business
The museum as entrepreneur: income generation and enterprise
Fundraising, sponsorship, philanthropy, and ‘the gift’
Autonomy and instrumentalisation
Implication of cultural policy
Governance, legal status and funding models
The public interest and the private market
Tourism, leisure and marketing
Regeneration through culture (the ‘Bilbao effect’)
The ‘museum boom’, 1980-2010 – costs and consequences
Chapter 5: Display, interpretation and learning
What does ‘display’ mean in a museum or gallery context? *
Classic exhibition genres
Telling and showing histories in space and time
Working with spaces
What are the relationships between display and knowledge?
The gallery as ‘white cube’
The ‘poetics’ and ‘politics’ of display
Co-producing displays and sharing authorship
Can objects ‘speak’?
Making sense of what we see: the active visitor *
Visitor behaviour in gallery settings
From ‘education’ to ‘learning’
Creating accessibility for everyone
Chapter 6: Looking forward
Power and politics
Museums as a means to foster mutual understanding
Museums and galleries as social activists
Rhiannon Mason is Professor of Heritage and Cultural Studies and Head of the School of Arts and Cultures at Newcastle University, UK. Her teaching and research focuses on the role of heritage and memory institutions in mediating public understandings of people’s histories, cultures and identities.
Alistair Robinson is Director of Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, having held positions at the Victoria & Albert Museum and National Museum of Photography Film & Television. He is undertaking research into museums of modern art collecting contemporary art.
Emma Coffield is an Early Career Academic Fellow in Media, Culture, Heritage (MCH), at Newcastle University, UK. She is currently the MA programme leader for Art Museum and Gallery Studies. Her research focuses on contemporary art history, production and display, and the spatial politics of artistic practice.