The Role of Today’s Museum provides a thorough investigation of what museums do and why. Arguing that museums are multi-functional institutions, the book examines the consequences of this for the services that museums provide, the publics to whom they are provided and the providers themselves.
Adopting a wide perspective on understandings of the roles of museums and considering the different environments within which museums operate, Gray and McCall provide a new perspective on how transformations, as well as the gaps between intended policies and the actual work that is undertaken within museums, can be both identified and understood. By differentiating between social, economic and political visions and expectations of museums, the analysis in this book allows for a fuller understanding of what these organisations do and provide for their societies and the struggles and negotiations that surround their existence.
The Role of Today’s Museum takes a critical, interdisciplinary approach to studying museums and museum policy. As a result, the book will be of interest to academics and students engaged in the study of museums, cultural policy, social policy, cultural sociology, public policy and cultural and political economy. Highlighting the gaps that exist between policy ideals and museum practices, the book also provides valuable insights to policymakers and practitioners.
Chapter 1: Introduction
But What are Museums for?
The Structure of the Book
Chapter 2: What do Museums do? What are Museums for?
Which Functions? Universal Description
Which Functions? Sources
Which Functions? Policy
Functions and Questions
Chapter 3: The Multifunctional Museum
Museums and Complexity
Institutions, Practices, Arenas
Time, Organisation, Location: The Contextualisation of Museum Functions
Chapter 4: Museums, Policy, Practice and the ‘Struggle over Space’
The Struggle Over ‘Space’ in the Museum
Policy, the Policy Process and Museums
‘Top-down’ versus ‘Bottom-up’ Policy
Governance of Museums
Museums and Social Inclusion
Museums, Place, Regeneration and Urban Development
Chapter 5: Museums and Societies
The Evolving Social Role of Museums in Society
The Social Role of the Museum in Society
Museums in the Field of Social Production
Building a Social Role for Museums within the ‘Game of Culture’
The Impact of the Social Role of the Museum
Quality of Life and Wellbeing
Difficulties with Social Expectations in Museums
Chapter 6: Museums and Economies
Economics and Museums
Economics and Museum Functions
Museums as the Source of Economic Value
The Instrumental Museum?
Chapter 7: Museums and Politics
Political Functions and Museums
Political Functions in the Museum
Political Functions of Museums
Political Functions about the Museum
Chapter 8: Conclusion
Functions: The Museum as a Social Construction
Value: Societal, Social and Economic