© 2008 – Routledge
Combining research that stretches across all of the social sciences and international case studies, Elizabeth Crooke here explores the dynamics of the relationship between the community and the museum.
Focusing strongly on areas such as Northern Ireland, South Africa, Australia and North America to highlight the complex issues faced by museums and local groups, Crooke examines one of the museum's primary responsibilities – working with different communities and using collections to encourage people to learn about their own histories, and to understand other people's.
Arguing for a much closer examination of this concept of community, and of the significance of museums to different communities, Museums and Community is a dynamic look at a relationship that has, in modern times, never been more important.
Introduction 1. The appeal of community, museums and heritage 2. Understanding community 3. Community development and the UK museum sector 4. Social capital and the cultural sector 5. Museums, cultural diversity and multiculturalism 6. Museums and community relations in Northern Ireland 7. Museums and community movements Conclusion
Museums have undergone enormous changes in recent decades; an ongoing process of renewal and transformation bringing with it changes in priority, practice and role as well as new expectations, philosophies, imperatives and tensions that continue to attract attention from those working in, and drawing upon, wide ranging disciplines.
Museum Meanings presents new research that explores diverse aspects of the shifting social, cultural and political significance of museums and their agency beyond, as well as within, the cultural sphere. Interdisciplinary, cross-cultural and international perspectives and empirical investigation are brought to bear on the exploration of museums’ relationships with their various publics (and analysis of the ways in which museums shape – and are shaped by – such interactions).
Theoretical perspectives might be drawn from anthropology, cultural studies, art and art history, learning and communication, media studies, architecture and design and material culture studies amongst others. Museums are understood very broadly – to include art galleries, historic sites and other cultural heritage institutions – as are their relationships with diverse constituencies.
The focus on the relationship of the museum to its publics shifts the emphasis from objects and collections and the study of museums as text, to studies grounded in the analysis of bodies and sites; identities and communities; ethics, moralities and politics.