By Steven Conn
"We stay in a museum age," writes Steven Conn in Do Museums nonetheless want Objects? And certainly, on the flip of the twenty-first century, extra individuals are traveling museums than ever prior to. There are actually over 17,500 approved museums within the usa, averaging nearly 865 million visits a yr, greater than million visits an afternoon. New museums have proliferated around the cultural panorama at the same time older ones have passed through transformational additions: from the Museum of recent artwork and the Morgan in ny to the excessive in Atlanta and the Getty in la. If the golden age of museum-building got here a century in the past, whilst the Metropolitan Museum of artwork, the yank Museum of usual heritage, the Philadelphia Museum of artwork, the sector Museum of typical historical past, and others have been created, then it really is reasonable to assert that during the final iteration we have now witnessed a moment golden age.
By heavily watching the cultural, highbrow, and political roles that museums play in modern society, whereas additionally delving deeply into their institutional histories, historian Steven Conn demonstrates that museums are not any longer noticeable easily as homes for collections of items. Conn levels throughout a wide selection of museum types—from paintings and anthropology to technological know-how and advertisement museums—asking questions about the connection among museums and information, in regards to the connection among tradition and politics, in regards to the function of museums in representing non-Western societies, and approximately public associations and the altering nature in their constituencies. Elegantly written and deeply researched, Do Museums nonetheless desire Objects? is vital analyzing for historians, museum execs, and those that like to stopover at museums.
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Extra resources for Do Museums Still Need Objects?
On the one side stand the natural history collections. . On the other side are the fine-art collections. . 12 It opened, in 1899, as the Free Museum of Science and Art. The University of Pennsylvania’s experiment in filling the space in between, however, proved unusual. More often, anthropology collections found their home as a department within larger natural history museums. There anthropology followed the museum practices of the other natural sciences. Objects were collected, organized, and displayed to illustrate a largely progressive, evolutionary narrative, only this time the evolution was social and cultural rather than biological.
That category represents if not a solution then at least a truce in the political fights over non-Western objects in the museum. In reclassifying objects from anthropology to art, the assumption is that we, as Westerners, will appreciate both the objects and the makers of those objects in the way that we value our own history and traditions. Indeed, accompanying this shift in categories has been, especially over the last generation, the emergence of an art historical apparatus analogous to that which developed for Western art in the nineteenth century.
Andrew McClellan, in surveying trends in art museums, believes that there have been salutary results from the critique of the museum: ‘‘One positive development in recent years has been the emergence of new museums for different publics. ’’28 I see less of this at art museums than McClellan does, but his assertion seems to describe the development of historical museums exactly. While the vast bulk of places that call themselves history museums are local—such as the boyhood home of Ulysses S. Grant, for instance—or military, two other recent developments interest me more.
Do Museums Still Need Objects? by Steven Conn