1st Edition

Museum and Gallery Studies The Basics

    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    246 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.


    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’


    Further reading

    Chapter 1: First principles

    What is a museum or gallery? *

    ‘New museology’

    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?

    Public Trust


    Heritage as institution, adjective or tradition

    Elite or ‘everyone’s’ heritage


    Further reading

    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

    Creating Value

    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?

    Conclusion *

    Further reading:

    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.

    Audience segmentation

    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

    Audience Development

    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?


    Further reading

    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


    Further reading

    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

    Taking responsibility?

    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


    Further reading

    Chapter 6: Looking forward

    Power and politics

    Museums as a means to foster mutual understanding

    Museums and galleries as social activists


    Changing perspectives

    Valuing culture

    Visitor trends

    Further reading





    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.