© 2004 – Routledge
Contributing to current debates on relationships between culture and the social, and the the rapidly changing practices of modern museums as they seek to shed the legacies of both evolutionary conceptions and colonial science, this important new work explores how evolutionary museums developed in the USA, UK, and Australia in the late nineteenth century.
"Sure to be a major intervention in museums and cultural studies…an important and provocative text….I expect this book to be as important as Birth of the Museum, which is saying something." - Ivan Karp, Emory University
Introduction 1. Dead Circuses: Expertise, Exhibition, Government 2. The Archaeological Gaze of the Historical Sciences 3. Reassembling the Museum 4. The Connective Tissue of Civilisation 5. Selective Memory: Racial Recall and Civic Renewal at the American Museum of Natural History 6. Evolutionary Ground Zero: Colonialism and the Fold of Memory 7. Words, Things and Vision: Evolution 'At a Glance' Postscript: Slow Modernism Endnotes References Index
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.