Guide to New Museum Studies

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The V & A Album 5 (1986): 37, quoted by Mark Goodwin, "Objects, Power, and Belief in mid-Victorian England—the Origins of the Victoria and Albert Museum," in Objects of Knowledge, 10.


Conn, Museums, 262.


 For a survey of "the museum-memory nexus [as] one of the richest sites for inquiry into the production of cultural and personal knowledge," see Susan A. Crane, "Introduction," in Museums and Memory, 1-13; Gaynor Kavanaugh, Dream Spaces: Memory and the Museum (London and New York, 2000), is a practice-oriented study by an experienced museum professional. Working with concepts from linguistics and cognitive studies, Diana Drake Wilson, "Realizing Memory, Transforming History: Euro/American/Indians," in Museums and Memory, 115-36, constructs a theoretical rationale for a "materials memory" that has "referential immediacy and effects…as truth-ful and socially, culturally, psychologically, and physically consequential for subjectivity and experience." (34) Cf., however, the provocative historiographical essay that brings out the equivocations in the collective memory literature by Kerwin Lee Klein, "On the Emergence of Memory in Historical Discourse," Representations, no. 69 (Winter 2000): 127-43. On “inalienable possessions,” see Fred R. Myers, “Introduction,” in Fred R. Myers, ed., The Empire of Things (Santa Fe, NM, and Oxford, 2001), 12-15, referring particularly to the work of anthropologist Annette Weiner.


A very large bibliography ranges from local studies to reflections on cross-cultural encounters in museums as staging grounds of memory, identity formation, and identity politics; two excellent examples of each kind are, respectively, Michael Ross and Reg Crowshoe, "Shadows and Sacred Geography: First Nations History-Making from an Alberta Perspective," in Gaynor Kavanaugh, ed., Making Histories in Museums, (London and New York, 1996), 240-56; and the work of James Clifford, esp., the essay-chapters in Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge, MA and London, 1997, chap. 5 ("Four Northwest Coast Museums: Travel Reflections", 107-145; chap. 7 ("Museums as Contact Zones"), 188-219. For the debates surrounding Native American repatriation issues, see Devon A. Mihesuah, ed., Repatriation Reader : Who Owns American Indian Remains? (Lincoln, Neb., 2000); Jed Riffe has produced and directed an excellent documentary film on the subject, “Who Owns the Past?” See below, pp. 000-00.

58Ivan Karp and David Lavine, "Museums and Multiculturalism," in Exhibiting Cultures, 5.

59 Amy Henderson and Adrienne Louise Kaeppler, eds., Exhibiting Dilemmas: Issues of Representation at the Smithsonian, (Washington, D. C., 1997); Willard L. Boyd, "Museums as Centers of Controversy," America's Museums, in Daedalus, 85-228, is a useful survey by a distinguished museum professional , lawyer, and academic administrator.

60 Marlene Chambers, "Critiquing Exhibition Criticism," Museum News (September/October 1999): 31-74, notes the long-standing popularity of sessions at annual meetings of museum professionals which are devoted to critiquing exhibitions; she offers a witty taxonomy: "Yankee Trader criticism, with its authoritarian, didactic emphasis on putting across a message; Houdini criticism, which focuses on escaping the culturally conditioned paradigms that shape our messages and their meanings; LEGO criticism, which views meaning making as a shared social process" (31).

61 William Yeingst and Lonnie B. Bunch, "Curating the Recent Past: The Woolworth Lunch Counter, Greensboro, North Carolina," in Exhibiting Dilemmas, 143-55; an eight-foot section of the counter was eventually (and provisionally) installed in a second-floor corridor, outside the main exhibit but in view of the Star-Spangled banner, and accompanied by photo murals on the Civil Rights movement.

62Gaynor Kavanaugh, "Preface," in Making Histories, xiii. See David Lowenthal, Possessed by the Past: The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History (New York, 1996); and Robert Lumley, “The Debate on Heritage Reviewed,” in Robert Miles and Lauro Zavala, eds., Towards the Museum of the Future (London and New York, 1994), 57-69.


Steven C. Dubin, Displays of Power: Controversy in the American Museum from the Gay to Sensation (New York, 2000), 2-3.


Luke, Museum Politics, 221.

65 Dubin, Displays of Power, chap. 2 ("Crossing 125th Street: Harlem on my Mind Revisited"), 19-63. Dubin's cases are Gaelic Gotham, Museum of the City of New York, 1996; Sigmund Freud: Conflict and Culture, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C., 1996; The West as America: Reinterpreting Images of the Frontier, 1820-1920, National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C., 1991; the Enola Gay controversy; and Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1999.

66Luke discusses singly or comparatively the Enola Gay controversy; The West as America: Reinterpreting Images of the Frontier, 1820-1920, National Museum of American Art, Washington, D. C. [1991] and the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage, Los Angeles; the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C., and the Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles; two exhibits [1988, 1998] on medieval Japanese art and culture, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.; the American Museum of Natural History, New York, and the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis; the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson; the Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson; the Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, California; The Nuseum in Arlington, Virginia.

67 Dubin, Displays of Power, 15.

68 The literature includes several books, a collection of documents and texts, and more than 500 articles. See Kai Birk and Lawrence Lifschultz, eds., Hiroshima's Shadows: Writings on the Denial of History and the Smithsonian Controversy, (Stony Creek, CT, 1998); and for recent episodes, "The New Enola Gay Controversy--Pro and Con," History News Network, November 11, 2003 (http//

69 Richard H. Kohn, "History at Risk: The Case of the Enola Gay," in Edward T. Linenthal and Tom Engelhardt, eds., History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past, (New York, 1996), 142, 169.

70 Moira G. Simpson, Making Representations: Museums in the Post-Colonial Era (London and New York, 1996), is a full survey, with extensive fieldwork on many specific cases; Tim Barringer and Tom Flynn, eds., Colonialism and the Object: Empire, Material Culture, and the Museum (London and New York, 1998), is a representative selection of papers originally presented at the 1995 British Association of Art Historians' Conference.

71 For the MOMA exhibition, see esp. James Clifford, "Histories of the Tribal and the Modern," in James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture (Cambridge, MA, 1988), 89-214 and the references in n. 79 below; for a convenient survey of the vast outpouring, much of it critical, occasioned by the Columbian Quincentennial, see Simpson, Making Representations, 40-43; Simpson (35-36, 39-40) also covers exhibitions that galvanized memorable protests along similar lines in the U. K. and Canada, Hidden Peoples of the Amazon, Museum of Mankind, London, 1985-86; The Spirit Sings: Artistic Traditions of Canada's First Peoples, Glenbow Museum, Calgary, 1988.

72 A point stressed by Barringer and Flynn, eds., in their introduction to Colonialism and its Object, 2, with reference to Edward Said's Orientalism (1978) and Culture and Imperialism (1993).

73 Donna Haraway, "Teddy Bear Patriarchy: Taxidermy for the Garden of Eden (first version, 1985), rev. version of 1989, rpt. in Donna Haraway, The Haraway Reader (London and New York, 2004), 151-97; Annie C. Coombes, Reinventing Africa: Museums, Material Culture and Popular Imagination in Late Victorian and Edwardian England (New Haven and London, 1994) is a landmark study, complementary to Haraway’s, on British high imperial conceptions of Africa.

74 See esp. Susan Hiller, ed., The Myth of Primitivism: Perspectives on Art (London and New York, 1991); Sally Price, Primitive Art in Civilized Places (Chicago and London, 1991); Clifford, "Histories of the Tribal and the Modern"; and Shelly Errington, The Death of Authentic Primitive Art and Other Tales of Progress (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1998). For a thoughtful review acknowledging the positive results but also the unresolved difficulties arising from the critique of Primitivism, see Ruth B. Phillips, “Where Is ‘Africa’? Re-Viewing Art and Artifact in the Age of Globalization,” American Anthropologist 104.3 (2002): 944-52, repr. in Preziosi and Farago, eds., Grasping the World, 758-74. For gender, see Jane K. Glaser and Artemis H. Zenetou, eds., Gender Perspectives: Essays on Women in Museums (Washington and St. Louis, 1994).

75 Simpson, Making Representations, 43-4.

76 Hooper-Greenhill, Museums and their Visitors (London and New York, 1994), 6-34, inventories some of these strategies, with an emphasis on marketing; see too her edition of essays Cultural Diversity: Developing Museum Audiences in Britain (London and Washington, 1997); for an overview, see Boyd, "Museums as Centers of Controversy" and Simpson, Making Representations


77 Jo Blatti, "The Halls Are Made of Marble, There's a Guard at Every Door," in American Quarterly 45:3 (September 1993): 281.

78Tony Bennett, a leading advocate for a museum criticism engaged with public policy, has been criticized for failing to spell out the criteria by which policies should be judged and what directions they should move in: cf., e. g., Tony Bennett, "Putting Policy into Cultural Studies," in Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Wilson, and Paula A. Treichler, eds., Cultural Studies (New York, 1992), 23-37; and Jim McGuigan, Culture and the Public Sphere (London, 1996). For recent reflections by a seasoned observer, see the latest collection of essays by Stephen E. Weil, Making Museums Matter (Washington and London, 2002).

79Avtar Brah and Annie E. Coombes, eds., "Introduction: the Conundrum of 'Mixing'," Hybridity and Its Discontents: Politics, Science, Culture (London and New York, 2000), 2, questioning the ethics of "providing endlessly differentiated experiences on an expanding menu of delectation while the subjects of this feast continue to experience the kind of discrimination which makes their own material existence at best precarious and at worst intolerable."


Thomas F. Gieryn, "Balancing Acts: Science, Enola Gay, and History Wars at the Smithsonian," The Politics of Display, 197-228 (quotation, p. 221).

81 Mary Louis Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel and Transculturation (London, 1992), 6, quoted by James Clifford, "Museums as Contact Zones," in Routes, 192.


Clifford, "Museums as Contact Zones," 213.

83See the reviews of present and future challenges in R. Miles and L. Zavala, eds., Towards the Museum of the Future: New European Perspectives (London, 1994); Patrick Boylan, ed. Museums 2000: Politics, People, Professionals and Profit (London, 1998); and Harold Skramstad, "An Agenda for American Museums in the Twenty-First Century" and Maxwell L. Anderson, Museums of the Future: The Impact of Technology on Museum Practices, in America's Museums, Daedalus, 109-28, 129-62. The Colorado-based Visitors' Study Association (htttp:// is a gateway to current information and research; the International Library of Visitor Studies (ILVS) is an annually updated bibliography of visitor research; for an overview (mostly of British surveys), with positive proposals on relating museums to new publics, see Hooper-Greenhill, Museums and their Visitors.

84Hein, The Museum in Transition, viii, 71.

85Hein, The Museum in Transition, 77, 84, 86-7.

86Barry Lord and Gail Dexter Lord, eds., The Manual of Museum Exhibitions (Walnut Creek, CA, 2002), 17. John H. Falk and Lynn D. Dierking, The Museum Experience (Washington, D. C., 1992) have developed a multi-factored sociological-psychological model of the "museum experience"; "[e]xperience design is a new and special skill, and it will be in great demand in the future," according to Skramstad, "An Agenda," in America's Museums, Daedalus,123.

87 David Lowenthal, "White Elephants and Ivory Towers: Embattled Museums? (The British Museum's Annual A. W. Franks Lecture 1999)," Museum Management and Curatorship 18.2 (2000): 175.


Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Destination Culture, 232.

89 Bennett, Birth of the Museum, 156-62.

90 Hilde S. Hein, The Exploratorium: The Museum as Laboratory (Washington, D.C., 1990); Edward P. Alexander, The Museum in America: Innovators and Pioneers (Walnut Creek, CA, London, and New Delhi, 1997), 117-32.

91 Bennett, Birth of the Museum, 40-45, reviews the arguments for continuity.

92 Stephen Bann, The Clothing of Clio: A Study in the Representation of History in Nineteenth-Century Britain and France (Cambridge and New York, 1984), 77-92; cf. Dominique Poulot, "Alexandre Lenoir et les Musées des Monuments Français," in Nora, ed., La Nation, Les Lieux de Mémoire 2:2, 497-531.

93 Francis Haskell, The Ephemeral Museum: Old Master Paintings and the Rise of the Art Exhibition (New Haven and London, 2000), 82-89.

94 Haskell, 87-88.


 George F. MacDonald, "Change and Challenge: Museums in the Information Society," in Museums and Communities, 169-70; for applications of this program at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, see George F. MacDonald and S. Alsford, A Museum for a Global Village (Hull, Ontario, 1989).


 MacDonald, "Change and Challenge," 161; for further, generally optimistic reflections on claims of this sort, see Anderson, "Museums of the Future," 129-62..


Luke, Museum Politics, 15; as Luke puts it in his conclusion, "power operates productively within a regime of governmentality by giving art, nature, science, history, and technology a much more entertaining face (223)."

98See Luke, Museum Politics, esp. chap. 3 ("Memorializing Mass Murder: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum"), 37-64; and for an overview of the argument, the Conclusion ("Piecing Together Knowledge and Pulling Apart Power at the Museum"), 218-30. Cf. Witcomb, Re-imagining the Museum, 133-41, for other critical perspectives on the National Holocaust Museum and the Museum of Tolerance.


The range of virtual museums is enormous, from corporate projects and personal hobbies to government-sponsored consortiums, from the refined such as a museum of classical Chinese culture ( to the absurd (a museum of airsickness bags ( See Witcomb, Re-imagining the Museum, 119-37.

100 See, e. g., Hooper-Greenhill, Museums and their Publics, 54-83.


 New York Times, April 24, 2002: G, 12.


Hein, Museum in Transition, 77, vii.


See above, pp. 000, 000.


 Hein, Museums in Transition, 148-9.


Witcomb, Re-imagining the Museum, 147-62, on the Australian Maritime Museum and the Museum of Sydney.


I quote from the concluding summary in Witcomb, Re-imagining the Museum, 165.

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