The Museum of Babel
Meditations on the Return to Curiosity
- Available for pre-order on April 9, 2023. Item will ship after April 30, 2023
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As the master narratives of the so-called Museum Age decline and the new museology grows old, museums appear to be returning to the fragile and ruined heterogeneity that they once so vigorously denied; museums everywhere now exhibit pieces of their own pasts, often in the form of refashioned cabinets of curiosity. Thurner explores the broader meaning of this ongoing return to curiosity in the museum within this book and argues that it indicates a need for reflection about what museums are actually museums of. The Museum of Babel provides a unique and thoughtful reflection upon this fundamental question, which is of broad significance for the global culture of our age.
Examining the history of museums from a transatlantic perspective, Thurner discusses and analyses an array of contemporary exhibits of the museum’s past. Providing engaging and lively meditations on the histories that have made museums, from the Prado to the British Museum, and from the Louvre to Mexico’s Museum of Anthropology, Thurner provides a novel reflection on exhibits of the museum’s own past, whilst also demonstrating what museums are and making suggestions as to what they might become.
The Museum of Babel is an enlightening reflection on the purpose and meaning of museums. As such, it will be of interest to academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the fields of museum studies, cultural studies, area studies, history, anthropology and art history.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Foucault’s Mirror
Mark Thurner is a Reader in Latin American Studies in the School of Advanced Study at the University of London in the UK.