Once seen as a collection of artifacts and ritual objects, African art now commands respect from museums and collectors. Bennetta Jules-Rosette and J.R. Osborn explore the reframing of African art through case studies of museums and galleries in the United States, Europe, and Africa.
The authors take a three-pronged approach. Part One ranges from curiosity cabinets to virtual websites to offer a history of ethnographic and art museums and look at their organization and methods of reaching out to the public. In the second part, the authors examine museums as ecosystems and communities within communities, and they use semiotic methods to analyze images, signs, and symbols drawn from the experiences of curators and artists. The third part introduces innovative strategies for displaying, disseminating, and reclaiming African art. The authors also propose how to reinterpret the art inside and outside the museum and show ways of remixing the results.
Drawing on extensive conversations with curators, collectors, and artists, African Art Reframed is an essential guide to building new exchanges and connections in the dynamic worlds of African and global art.
Byzantine art is normally explained as devotional, historical, highly intellectualized, but this book argues for an experiential necessity for a fuller, deeper, more ethical approach to this art. Written in response to an exhibition the author curated at The Menil Collection in 2013, this monograph challenges us to search for novel ways to explore and interrogate the art of this distant culture. They marshal diverse disciplines—modern art, environmental theory, anthropology—to argue that Byzantine culture formed a special kind of Christian animism. While completely foreign to our world, that animism still holds important lessons for approaches to our own relations to the world. Mutual probings of subject and art, of past and present, arise in these essays—some new and some previously published—and new explanations therefore open up that will interest historians of art, museum professionals, and anyone interested in how art makes and remakes the world.
Black behind the Ears is an innovative historical and ethnographic examination of Dominican identity formation in the Dominican Republic and the United States. For much of the Dominican Republic’s history, the national body has been defined as “not black,” even as black ancestry has been grudgingly acknowledged. Rejecting simplistic explanations, Ginetta E. B. Candelario suggests that it is not a desire for whiteness that guides Dominican identity discourses and displays. Instead, it is an ideal norm of what it means to be both indigenous to the Republic (indios) and “Hispanic.” Both indigeneity and Hispanicity have operated as vehicles for asserting Dominican sovereignty in the context of the historically triangulated dynamics of Spanish colonialism, Haitian unification efforts, and U.S. imperialism. Candelario shows how the legacy of that history is manifest in contemporary Dominican identity discourses and displays, whether in the national historiography, the national museum’s exhibits, or ideas about women’s beauty. Dominican beauty culture is crucial to efforts to identify as “indios” because, as an easily altered bodily feature, hair texture trumps skin color, facial features, and ancestry in defining Dominicans as indios.
Candelario draws on her participant observation in a Dominican beauty shop in Washington Heights, a New York City neighborhood with the oldest and largest Dominican community outside the Republic, and on interviews with Dominicans in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Santo Domingo. She also analyzes museum archives and displays in the Museo del Hombre Dominicano and the Smithsonian Institution as well as nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century European and American travel narratives.
A major scholar considers the role of the museum in art history.
What begins as a meditation on "the museum" by one of the world's leading art historians becomes, in this book, a far-reaching critical examination of how art history and museums have guided and controlled not only the way we look at art but the ways in which we understand modernity itself.
Originally delivered as the 2001 Slade Lectures in the Fine Arts at Oxford University, the book makes its deeply complex argument remarkably accessible and powerfully clear. Concentrating on a period from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth, Donald Preziosi presents case studies of major institutions that, he argues, have defined--and are still defining--the possible limits of museological and art historical theory and practice. These include Sir John Soane's Museum in London, preserved in its 1837 state; the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851; and four museums founded by Europeans in Egypt in the late nineteenth century, which divided up that country's history into "ethnically marked" aesthetic hierarchies and genealogies that accorded with Europe's construction of itself as the present of the world's past, and the "brain of the earth's body."
Through this epistemological and institutional archaeology, Preziosi unearths the outlines of the more radical Enlightenment project that academic art history, professional museology, and art criticism have rendered marginal or invisible. Finally, he sketches a new theory about art, artifice, and visual signification in the cracks and around the margins of the "secular theologisms" of the globalized imperial capital called modernity.
Addressed equally to the theoretical and philosophical foundations of art history, museology, history, and anthropology, this book goes to the heart of recent debates about race, ethnicity, nationality, colonialism, and multiculturalisms-and to the very foundations of modernity and modern modes of knowledge production.
Donald Preziosi is professor of art history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and research associate in art history and visual culture at Oxford University. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including The Art of Art History (1998).
The past twenty-five years have seen enormous changes in Native America. One of the most profound expressions of change has been within the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. The Nation has overcome significant hurdles to establish itself as a potent cultural and economic force highlighted by the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center and Foxwoods, the largest casino in the Western Hemisphere. In Casino and Museum, John J. Bodinger de Uriarte sees these two main commercial structures of the reservation as mutually supporting industries generating both material and symbolic capital.
To some degree, both institutions offer Native representations yet create different strategies for attracting and engaging visitors. While the casino is crucial as an economic generator, the museum has an important role as the space for authentic Mashantucket Pequot images and narratives. The book’s focus is on how the casino and the museum successfully deploy different strategies to take control of the tribe’s identity, image, and cultural agency.
Photographs in the book provide a view of Mashantucket, allowing the reader to study the spaces of the book’s central arguments. They are a key methodology of the project and offer a non-textual opportunity to navigate the sites as well as one finely focused way to work through the representation and formation of the Native American photographic subject—the powerful popular imagining of Native Americans. Casino and Museum presents a unique understanding of the prodigious role that representation plays in the contemporary poetics and politics of Native America. It is essential reading for scholars of Native American studies, museum studies, cultural studies, and photography.
Collecting Mexico centers on the ways in which aesthetics and commercialism intersected in officially sanctioned public collections and displays in late nineteenth-century Mexico. Shelley E. Garrigan approaches questions of origin, citizenry, membership, and difference by reconstructing the lineage of institutionally collected objects around which a modern Mexican identity was negotiated. In doing so, she arrives at a deeper understanding of the ways in which displayed objects become linked with nationalistic meaning and why they exert such persuasive force.
Spanning the Porfiriato period from 1867 to 1910, Collecting Mexico illuminates the creation and institutionalization of a Mexican cultural inheritance. Employing a wide range of examples—including the erection of public monuments, the culture of fine arts, and the representation of Mexico at the Paris World’s Fair of 1889—Garrigan pursues two strands of thought that weave together in surprising ways: national heritage as a transcendental value and patrimony as potential commercial interest.
Collecting Mexico shows that the patterns of institutional collecting reveal how Mexican public collections engendered social meaning. Using extensive archival materials, Garrigan’s close readings of the processes of collection building offer a new vantage point for viewing larger issues of identity, social position, and cultural/capital exchange.
What kind of property is art? Is it property at all? Jordanna Bailkin's The Culture of Property offers a new historical response to these questions, examining ownership disputes over art objects and artifacts during the crisis of liberalism in the United Kingdom. From the 1870s to the 1920s, Britons fought over prized objects from ancient gold ornaments dug up in an Irish field to a portrait of the Duchess of Milan at the National Gallery in London. They fought to keep these objects in Britain, to repatriate them to their points of origin, and even to destroy them altogether. Bailkin explores these disputes in order to investigate the vexed status of property within modern British politics as well as the often surprising origins of ongoing institutional practices. Bailkin's detailed account of these struggles illuminates the relationship between property and citizenship, which has constituted the heart of liberal politics as well as its greatest weakness.
Drawing on court transcripts, gallery archives, exhibition reviews, private correspondence—and a striking series of cartoons and photographs—The Culture of Property traverses the history of gender, material culture, urban life, colonialism, Irish and Scottish nationalism, and British citizenship. This fascinating book challenges recent scholarship in museum studies in light of ongoing culture wars. It should be required reading for cultural policy makers, museum professionals, and anyone interested in the history of art and Britain.
In Curating Community: Museums, Constitutionalism, and the Taming of the Political, Stacy Douglas challenges the centrality of sovereignty in our political and juridical imaginations. Creatively bringing together constitutional, political, and aesthetic theory, Douglas argues that museums and constitutions invite visitors to identify with a prescribed set of political constituencies based on national, ethnic, or anthropocentric premises. In both cases, these stable categories gloss over the radical messiness of the world and ask us to conflate representation with democracy. Yet the museum, when paired with the constitution, can also serve as a resource in the production of alternative imaginations of community. Consequently, Douglas’s key contribution is the articulation of a theory of counter-monumental constitutionalism, using the museum, that seeks to move beyond individual and collective forms of sovereignty that have dominated postcolonial and postapartheid theories of law and commemoration. She insists on the need to reconsider deep questions about how we conceptualize the limits of ourselves, as well as our political communities, in order to attend to everyday questions of justice in the courtroom, the museum, and beyond. Curating Community is a book for academics, artists, curators, and constitutional designers interested in legacies of violence, transitional justice, and democracy.
This volume argues that a small, loosely connected group of men constituted an informal museum movement in America from about 1740 to 1870.
As they formed their pioneer museums, these men were guided not so much by European examples, but rather by the imperatives of the American democratic culture, including the Enlightenment, the simultaneous decline of the respectability and rise of the middle classes, the Age of Egalitarianism, and the advent of professionalism in the sciences. Thus the pre-1870 American museum was neither the frivolous sideshow some critics have imagined, nor the enclave for elitists that others have charged. Instead, the proprietors displayed serious motives and egalitarian aspirations.
The conflicting demands for popular education on the one hand and professionalism on the other were a continuing source of tension in American museums after about 1835, but by 1870 the two claims had synthesized into a rough parity. This synthesis, the "American Compromise," has remained the basic model of museums in America down to the present. Thus, by 1870, the form of the modern American museum as an institution which simultaneously provides popular education and promotes scholarly research was completely developed.
As U.S. museums evolve from their role as elite institutions to organizations serving multiple stakeholders, they must adopt new communication practices to meet their social missions and organizational goals. Engaging Diverse Communities, the first book-length study of museum public relations for practitioners since 1983, details how institutions can use communication fundamentals to establish and maintain relationships with a wide range of cultural groups and constituencies.
Melissa A. Johnson interviews communicators at cultural heritage museums to understand the challenges of representing communities based on racial and ethnic, generational, immigrant, and language identities. Exploring how communications professionals function as cultural intermediaries by negotiating competing and intersecting identities and mastering linguistic and visual code-switching, she presents an analysis of the communication tactics of more than two hundred art, history, African American, American Indian, and other diverse museums. Engaging Diverse Communities illuminates best public relations practices, especially in media relations, digital press relations, website content production, social media, and event planning. This essential text for museum professionals also addresses visual aesthetics, cultural expression, and counter-stereotypes, and offers guidance on how to communicate cultural attractiveness.
The essays in this volume explore crucial intellectual and cultural exchanges between Asia and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. Examining the increased mobility of people and information, scientific advances, global crises, and the unravelling of empires, Eurasian Encounters demonstrates that this time period saw an unprecedented increase in a transnational flow of politically and socially influential ideas. Together, the contributors show how the two ends of Eurasia interacted in artistic, academic, and religious spheres using new international and cosmopolitan approaches.
Today, nearly any group or nation with violence in its past has constructed or is planning a memorial museum as a mechanism for confronting past trauma, often together with truth commissions, trials, and/or other symbolic or material reparations. Exhibiting Atrocity documents the emergence of the memorial museum as a new cultural form of commemoration, and analyzes its use in efforts to come to terms with past political violence and to promote democracy and human rights.
Through a global comparative approach, Amy Sodaro uses in-depth case studies of five exemplary memorial museums that commemorate a range of violent pasts and allow for a chronological and global examination of the trend: the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC; the House of Terror in Budapest, Hungary; the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre in Rwanda; the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile; and the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York. Together, these case studies illustrate the historical emergence and global spread of the memorial museum and show how this new cultural form of commemoration is intended to be used in contemporary societies around the world.
In 1707 Scotland ceased to exist as an independent country and became part of Great Britain. Yet it never lost its distinct sense of identity, history, and politics. To preserve the country’s unique antiquities and natural specimens, a Scottish earl founded the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1780, at the beginning of the Enlightenment’s museum boom. Now numbering twelve million objects and specimens and representing everything from archaeology to applied arts and design, from social history to science and the natural world, these collections formed the foundation for what eventually became the National Museum of Scotland.
In Exhibiting Scotland, Alima Bucciantini traces how these collections have helped tell the changing stories of this country for centuries and how the museum reflects the Scots’ continuing negotiation of their place within modern Britain.
Samuel Quiccheberg’s Inscriptiones, first published in Latin in 1565, is an ambitious effort to demonstrate the pragmatic value of curiosity cabinets, or Wunderkammern, to princely collectors in sixteenth-century Europe and, by so doing, inspire them to develop their own such collections. Quiccheberg shows how the assembly and display of physical objects offered nobles a powerful means to expand visual knowledge, allowing them to incorporate empirical and artisanal expertise into the realm of the written word. But in mapping out the collectability of the material world, Quiccheberg did far more than create a taxonomy. Rather, he demonstrated how organizing objects made their knowledge more accessible; how objects, when juxtaposed or grouped, could tell a story; and how such strategies could enhance the value of any single object.
Quiccheberg’s descriptions of early modern collections provide both a point of origin for today’s museums and an implicit critique of their aims, asserting the fundamental research and scholarly value of collections: collections are to be used, not merely viewed. The First Treatise on Museums makes Quiccheberg’s now rare publication available in an English translation. Complementing the translation are a critical introduction by Mark A. Meadow and a preface by Bruce Robertson.
Today well over two hundred museums focusing on African American history and culture can be found throughout the United States and Canada. Many of these institutions trace their roots to the 1960s and 1970s, when the struggle for racial equality inspired a movement within the black community to make the history and culture of African America more “public.” This book tells the story of four of these groundbreaking museums: the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago (founded in 1961); the International Afro-American Museum in Detroit (1965); the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum in Washington, D.C. (1967); and the African American Museum of Philadelphia (1976). Andrea A. Burns shows how the founders of these institutions, many of whom had ties to the Black Power movement, sought to provide African Americans with a meaningful alternative to the misrepresentation or utter neglect of black history found in standard textbooks and most public history sites. Through the recovery and interpretation of artifacts, documents, and stories drawn from African American experience, they encouraged the embrace of a distinctly black identity and promoted new methods of interaction between the museum and the local community. Over time, the black museum movement induced mainstream institutions to integrate African American history and culture into their own exhibits and educational programs. This often controversial process has culminated in the creation of a National Museum of African American History and Culture, now scheduled to open in the nation’s capital in 2015.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the majority of women were forced to seek their education outside the walls of American universities. Many turned to museums and libraries, for their own enlightenment, for formal education, and also for their careers. In Roffman’s close readings of four modernist writers—Edith Wharton, Nella Larsen, Marianne Moore, and Ruth Benedict—she studied the that modernist women writers were simultaneously critical of and shaped by these institutions.
From the Modernist Annex offers new and critically significant ways of understanding these writers and their texts, the distribution of knowledge, and the complicated place of women in modernist institutions.
Holocaust memorials and museums face a difficult task as their staffs strive to commemorate and document horror. On the one hand, the events museums represent are beyond most people’s experiences. At the same time they are often portrayed by theologians, artists, and philosophers in ways that are already known by the public. Museum administrators and curators have the challenging role of finding a creative way to present Holocaust exhibits to avoid clichéd or dehumanizing portrayals of victims and their suffering.
In Holocaust Memory Reframed, Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich examines representations in three museums: Israel’s Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, Germany’s Jewish Museum in Berlin, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. She describes a variety of visually striking media, including architecture, photography exhibits, artifact displays, and video installations in order to explain the aesthetic techniques that the museums employ. As she interprets the exhibits, Hansen-Glucklich clarifies how museums communicate Holocaust narratives within the historical and cultural contexts specific to Germany, Israel, and the United States. In Yad Vashem, architect Moshe Safdie developed a narrative suited for Israel, rooted in a redemptive, Zionist story of homecoming to a place of mythic geography and renewal, in contrast to death and suffering in exile. In the Jewish Museum in Berlin, Daniel Libeskind’s architecture, broken lines, and voids emphasize absence. Here exhibits communicate a conflicted ideology, torn between the loss of a Jewish past and the country’s current multicultural ethos. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum presents yet another lens, conveying through its exhibits a sense of sacrifice that is part of the civil values of American democracy, and trying to overcome geographic and temporal distance. One well-know example, the pile of thousands of shoes plundered from concentration camp victims encourages the visitor to bridge the gap between viewer and victim.
Hansen-Glucklich explores how each museum’s concept of the sacred shapes the design and choreography of visitors’ experiences within museum spaces. These spaces are sites of pilgrimage that can in turn lead to rites of passage.
A public art movement initiated by the postrevolutionary state, Mexican muralism has long been admired for its depictions of popular struggle and social justice. Mary K. Coffey revises traditional accounts of Mexican muralism by describing how a radical art movement was transformed into official culture, ultimately becoming a tool of state propaganda. Analyzing the incorporation of mural art into Mexico's most important public museums—the Palace of Fine Arts, the National History Museum, and the National Anthropology Museum—Coffey illuminates the institutionalization of muralism and the political and aesthetic issues it raised. She focuses on the period between 1934, when José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera were commissioned to create murals in the Palace of Fine Arts, through the crisis of state authority in the 1960s. Coffey highlights a reciprocal relationship between Mexico's mural art and its museums. Muralism shaped exhibition practices, which affected the politics, aesthetics, and reception of mural art. Interpreting the iconography of Mexico's murals, she focuses on representations of mestizo identity, the preeminent symbol of postrevolutionary Mexico. Coffey argues that those gendered representations reveal a national culture project more invested in race and gender inequality than in race and class equality.
In 2008, anthropologist Matti Bunzl was given rare access to observe the curatorial department of Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. For five months, he sat with the institution’s staff, witnessing firsthand what truly goes on behind the scenes at a contemporary art museum. From fund-raising and owner loans to museum-artist relations to the immense effort involved in safely shipping sixty works from twenty-seven lenders in fourteen cities and five countries, Matti Bunzl’s In Search of a Lost Avant-Garde illustrates the inner workings of one of Chicago’s premier cultural institutions.
Bunzl’s ethnography is designed to show how a commitment to the avant-garde can come into conflict with an imperative for growth, leading to the abandonment of the new and difficult in favor of the entertaining and profitable. Jeff Koons, whose massive retrospective debuted during Bunzl's research, occupies a central place in his book and exposes the anxieties caused by such seemingly pornographic work as the infamous Made in Heaven series. Featuring cameos by other leading artists, including Liam Gillick, Jenny Holzer, Karen Kilimnik, and Tino Sehgal, the drama Bunzl narrates is palpable and entertaining and sheds an altogether new light on the contemporary art boom.
An interdisciplinary work that draws on the fields of rhetorical studies, Native American and Indigenous studies, and museum studies, Legible Sovereignties considers the creation, critical reception, and adaptation of Indigenous self-representation in three diverse Indigenously oriented or owned institutions.
King tracks the exhibit spaces at the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan’s Ziibiwing Center, Haskell Indian Nation University’s Cultural Center and Museum, and the Smithsonian’s Washington, DC branch of the National Museum of the American Indian over their first ten years, from their opening until the summer of 2014. Far from formulaic, each site has developed its own rhetorical approaches to reaching its public, revealing multiple challenges and successes in making Native self-representation legible and accessible.
Through documentation and analysis of the inaugural exhibits and recent installations, interviews with curators and staff, and investigation into audience reception of these spaces, Legible Sovereignties argues that there can be no single blanket solution for effective Indigenous self-representation. Instead, Legible Sovereignties demonstrates the nuanced ways in which each site must balance its rhetorical goals and its audience's needs, as well as its material constraints and opportunities, in order to reach its visitors and have Indigenous voices heard.
What does it mean to turn the public library or museum into a civic forum? Made in Newark describes a turbulent industrial city at the dawn of the twentieth century and the ways it inspired the library's outspoken director, John Cotton Dana, to collaborate with industrialists, social workers, educators, and New Women.
This is the story of experimental exhibitions in the library and the founding of the Newark Museum Associationùa project in which cultural literacy was intertwined with civics and consumption. Local artisans demonstrated crafts, connecting the cultural institution to the department store, school, and factory, all of which invoked the ideal of municipal patriotism. Today, as cultural institutions reappraise their relevance, Made in Newark explores precedents for contemporary debates over the ways the library and museum engage communities, define heritage in a multicultural era, and add value to the economy.
Well known for its world-renowned art museums—from the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston—Massachusetts is also home to numerous institutions with more eclectic collections and, oftentimes, lower profiles. These include Mansfield’s National Black Doll Museum of History and Culture, Watertown’s Plumbing Museum, and Granville’s Noble and Cooley Center for Historic Preservation.
In Massachusetts Treasures, Chuck D’Imperio explores more than forty museums scattered throughout the Bay State, from Cape Cod to the Berkshires. Many—but not all—might be considered “offbeat,” and each and every one is enchanting. Through personal visits and interviews with founders and directors, D’Imperio offers an inside glimpse into some of the Commonwealth’s most unique museums, providing a valuable guide for road warriors and history buffs discovering Massachusetts either for the first or the tenth time.
This book tells the story of the search by the Zuni people for a culturally relevant public institution to help them maintain their heritage for future generations. Using a theoretical perspective grounded in knowledge systems, it examines how Zunis developed the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center to mediate between Zuni and Anglo-American values of history and culture. By using in-depth interviews, previously inaccessible archival records, and extensive ethnographic observations, Gwyneira Isaac provides firsthand accounts of the Zunis and non-Zunis involved in the development of the museum.
These personal narratives provide insight into the diversity of perspectives found within the community, as well as tracing the ongoing negotiation of the relationship between Zuni and Anglo-American cultures. In particular, Isaac examines how Zunis, who transmit knowledge about their history through oral tradition and initiation into religious societies, must navigate the challenge of utilizing Anglo-American museum practices, which privilege technology that aids the circulation of knowledge beyond its original narrators.
This book provides a much-needed contemporary ethnography of a Pueblo community recognized for its restrictive approach to outside observers. The complex interactions between Zunis and anthropologists explored here, however, reveal not only Puebloan but also Anglo-American attitudes toward secrecy and the control of knowledge.
The Museums Connect program stands at the intersection of transnational public history and international diplomacy. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the American Alliance of Museums, this program partners U.S. museums and non-U.S. museums in projects designed to foster community collaboration and engagement. Museum Diplomacy focuses on three Museums Connect projects arranged between the United States and South Africa, Morocco, and Afghanistan, respectively. Utilizing a diverse range of oral interviews, Richard J. W. Harker explores how museums negotiate national boundaries, institutional and local histories, and post-9/11 geopolitical interests. Working in different political and professional contexts, museum partners have built community-driven collaborative exhibitions and projects that tell transnational stories.
As more historic sites and museums seek to surmount social, cultural, and economic barriers between themselves and their communities in their exhibitions and programming, the Museums Connect program provides important lessons on how to overcome entrenched hierarchies of power in public history.
Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations
Ivan Karp, Corinne A. Kratz, Lynn Szwaja, and Tomás Ybarra-Frausto With Gustavo Buntinx, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, and Ciraj Rassool, eds. Duke University Press, 2006 Library of Congress AM7.M8713 2006 | Dewey Decimal 069
Museum Frictions is the third volume in a bestselling series on culture, society, and museums. The first two volumes in the series, Exhibiting Cultures and Museums and Communities, have become defining books for those interested in the politics of museum display and heritage sites. Another classic in the making, Museum Frictions is a lavishly illustrated examination of the significant and varied effects of the increasingly globalized world on contemporary museum, heritage, and exhibition practice. The contributors—scholars, artists, and curators—present case studies drawn from Africa, Australia, North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Together they offer a multifaceted analysis of the complex roles that national and community museums, museums of art and history, monuments, heritage sites, and theme parks play in creating public cultures.
Whether contrasting the transformation of Africa’s oldest museum, the South Africa Museum, with one of its newest, the Lwandle Migrant Labor Museum; offering an interpretation of the audio guide at the Guggenheim Bilbao; reflecting on the relative paucity of art museums in Peru and Cambodia; considering representations of slavery in the United States and Ghana; or meditating on the ramifications of an exhibition of Australian aboriginal art at the Asia Society in New York City, the contributors highlight the frictions, contradictions, and collaborations emerging in museums and heritage sites around the world. The volume opens with an extensive introductory essay by Ivan Karp and Corinne A. Kratz, leading scholars in museum and heritage studies.
Contributors. Tony Bennett, David Bunn, Gustavo Buntinx, Cuauhtémoc Camarena, Andrea Fraser, Martin Hall, Ivan Karp, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Corinne A. Kratz, Christine Mullen Kreamer, Joseph Masco, Teresa Morales, Howard Morphy, Ingrid Muan, Fred Myers, Ciraj Rassool, Vicente Razo, Fath Davis Ruffins, Lynn Szwaja, Krista A. Thompson, Leslie Witz, Tomás Ybarra-Frausto
Author David Saunders, former keeper of conservation and scientific research at the British Museum, explores how to balance the conflicting goals of visibility and preservation under a variety of conditions. Beginning with the science of how light, color, and vision function and interact, he proceeds to offer detailed studies of the impact of light on a wide range of objects, including paintings, manuscripts, textiles, bone, leather, and plastics.
With analyses of the effects of light on visibility and deterioration, Museum Lighting provides practical information to assist curators, conservators, and other museum professionals in making critical decisions about the display and preservation of objects in their collections.
For millions of people around the world, Tibet is a domain of undisturbed tradition, the Dalai Lama a spiritual guide. By contrast, the Tibet Museum opened in Lhasa by the Chinese in 1999 was designed to reclassify Tibetan objects as cultural relics and the Dalai Lama as obsolete. Suggesting that both these views are suspect, Clare E. Harris argues in The Museum on the Roof of the World that for the past one hundred and fifty years, British and Chinese collectors and curators have tried to convert Tibet itself into a museum, an image some Tibetans have begun to contest. This book is a powerful account of the museums created by, for, or on behalf of Tibetans and the nationalist agendas that have played out in them.
Harris begins with the British public’s first encounter with Tibetan culture in 1854. She then examines the role of imperial collectors and photographers in representations of the region and visits competing museums of Tibet in India and Lhasa. Drawing on fieldwork in Tibetan communities, she also documents the activities of contemporary Tibetan artists as they try to displace the utopian visions of their country prevalent in the West, as well as the negative assessments of their heritage common in China. Illustrated with many previously unpublished images, this book addresses the pressing question of who has the right to represent Tibet in museums and beyond.
The first sustained critique of the ways museum exhibits shape cultural assumptions and political values.
Each year the more than seven thousand museums in the United States attract more attendees than either movies or sports. Yet until recently, museums have escaped serious political analysis. The past decade, however, has witnessed a series of unusually acrimonious debates about the social, political, and moral implications of museum exhibitions as varied as the Enola Gay display at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum and the Sensation exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
In this important volume, Timothy W. Luke explores museums' power to shape collective values and social understandings, and argues persuasively that museum exhibitions have a profound effect on the body politic. Through discussions of topics ranging from how the National Holocaust Museum and the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles have interpreted the Holocaust to the ways in which the American Museum of Natural History, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, and Tucson's Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum have depicted the natural world, Luke exposes the processes through which museums challenge but more often affirm key cultural and social realities.
Timothy W. Luke is University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
During the last half of the nineteenth century, many of the country's most celebrated museums were built. In this original and daring study, Steven Conn argues that Americans, endowed with the belief that knowledge resided in objects themselves, built these institutions with the confidence that they could collect, organize, and display the sum of the world's knowledge. Conn discovers how museums gave definition to different bodies of knowledge and how these various museums helped to shape America's intellectual history.
"Conn is an enthusiastic advocate for his subject, an appealing thinker, an imaginative researcher, a scholar at ease with theory and with empirical evidence." —Ann Fabian, Reviews in American History
"Steven Conn's masterly study of late-nineteenth century American museums transports the reader to a strange and wonderful intellectual universe. . . . At the end of the day, Conn reminds us, objects still have the power to fascinate, attract, evoke, and, in the right context, explain." —Christopher Clarke-Hazlett, Journal of American History
This volume brings together contributions from a variety of anthropologists working in a variety of fields, including archaeology, cultural anthropology, linguistics, and ethnohistory, in order to reflect on the importance of memory and its public presentation. The intense interest surrounding the 400th anniversary of Jamestown in 2007 was the immediate occasion for this theme, and the volume has several chapters on issues devoted to memory in the U.S. South. While museums often present themselves as neutral settings for the interpretation of artifacts, they are deeply embedded in cultural, political, and social situations that anthropologists are in a unique position to evaluate. Moreover, the volume is noteworthy for including analyses of more informal sites of memory, including oral history, that connect local pasts and futures. A sophisticated, multilayered examination of a now trendy topic in anthropology, this work seeks to question widely held notions about collective memory, always reminding us that museums and monuments inform each of us of the past in some particular way and insist that we add it to our consciousness—that we remember it.
Margaret Williamson Huber is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at the University of Mary Washington. She is the author of Powhatan Lord of Life and Death: Command and Consent in Seventeenth-Century Virginia.
Southern Anthropological Society Proceedings, no. 39
The experience of engaging with art and history has been utterly transformed by information and communications technology in recent decades. We now have virtual, mediated access to countless heritage collections and assemblages of artworks, which we intuitively browse and navigate in a way that wasn't possible until very recently. This collection of essays takes up the question of the cultural meaning of the information and communications technology that makes these new engagements possible, asking questions like: How should we theorise the sensory experience of art and heritage? What does information technology mean for the authority and ownership of heritage?
The concept of an encyclopedic museum was born of the Enlightenment, a manifestation of society’s growing belief that the spread of knowledge and the promotion of intellectual inquiry were crucial to human development and the future of a rational society. But in recent years, museums have been under attack, with critics arguing that they are little more than relics and promoters of imperialism. Could it be that the encyclopedic museum has outlived its usefulness?
With Museums Matter, James Cuno, president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago, replies with a resounding “No!” He takes us on a brief tour of the modern museum, from the creation of the British Museum—the archetypal encyclopedic collection—to the present, when major museums host millions of visitors annually and play a major role in the cultural lives of their cities. Along the way, Cuno acknowledges the legitimate questions about the role of museums in nation-building and imperialism, but he argues strenuously that even a truly national museum like the Louvre can’t help but open visitors’ eyes and minds to the wide diversity of world cultures and the stunning art that is our common heritage. Engaging with thinkers such as Edward Said and Martha Nussbaum, and drawing on examples from the politics of India to the destruction of the Bramiyan Buddhas to the history of trade and travel, Cuno makes a case for the encyclopedic museum as a truly cosmopolitan institution, promoting tolerance, understanding, and a shared sense of history—values that are essential in our ever more globalized age.
Powerful, passionate, and to the point, Museums Matter is the product of a lifetime of working in and thinking about museums; no museumgoer should miss it.
The rapid expansion of the field of public history since the 1970s has led many to believe that it is a relatively new profession. In this book, Denise D. Meringolo shows that the roots of public history actually reach back to the nineteenth century, when the federal government entered into the work of collecting and preserving the nation’s natural and cultural resources. Scientists conducting research and gathering specimens became key figures in a broader effort to protect and interpret the nation’s landscape. Their collaboration with entrepreneurs, academics, curators, and bureaucrats alike helped pave the way for other governmental initiatives, from the Smithsonian Institution to the parks and monuments today managed by the National Park Service. All of these developments included interpretive activities that shaped public understanding of the past. Yet it was not until the emergence of the education-oriented National Park Service history program in the 1920s and 1930s that public history found an institutional home that grounded professional practice simultaneously in the values of the emerging discipline and in government service. Even thereafter, tensions between administrators in Washington and practitioners on the ground at National Parks, monuments, and museums continued to define and redefine the scope and substance of the field. The process of definition persists to this day, according to Meringolo, as public historians establish a growing presence in major universities throughout the United States and abroad.
Object Lessons and the Formation of Knowledge explores the museums, libraries, and special collections of the University of Michigan on its bicentennial. Since its inception, U-M has collected and preserved objects: biological and geological specimens; ethnographic and archaeological artifacts; photographs and artistic works; encyclopedia, textbooks, rare books, and documents; and many other items. These vast collections and libraries testify to an ambitious vision of the research university as a place where knowledge is accumulated, shared, and disseminated through teaching, exhibition, and publication. Today, two hundred years after the university’s founding, museums, libraries, and archives continue to be an important part of U-M, which maintains more than twenty distinct museums, libraries, and collections. Viewed from a historic perspective, they provide a window through which we can explore the transformation of the academy, its public role, and the development of scholarly disciplines over the last two centuries. Even as they speak to important facets of Michigan’s history, many of these collections also remain essential to academic research, knowledge production, and object-based pedagogy. Moreover, the university’s exhibitions and displays attract hundreds of thousands of visitors per year from the campus, regional, and global communities. Beautifully illustrated with color photographs of these world-renowned collections, this book will appeal to readers interested in the history of museums and collections, the formation of academic disciplines, and of course the University of Michigan.
The Optic of the State traces the production of nationalist imaginaries through the public visual representation of modern state formation in Brazil and Argentina. As Jens Andermann reveals, the foundational visions of national heritage, territory, and social and ethnic composition were conceived and implemented, but also disputed and contested, in a complex interplay between government, cultural, and scientific institutions and actors, as a means of propagating political agendas and power throughout the emerging states.
The purpose of these imaginaries was to vindicate the political upheavals of the recent past and secure the viability of the newly independent states through a sense of historic destiny and inevitable evolution. The careful presentation of artifacts and spectacles was also aimed abroad in order to win the favor of European imperial powers and thereby acquire a competitive place in the nascent global economy of the late nineteenth century. The Optic of the State offers a fascinating critique of the visual aspects of national mythology. It exposes how scientific and cultural institutions inscribed the state-form in time and space, thus presenting historical processes as natural “givens.”
The International Art Exhibition for Palestine took place in Beirut in 1978 and mobilized international networks of artists in solidarity with anti-imperialist movements of the 1960s and ’70s. In that era, individual artists and artist collectives assembled collections; organized touring exhibitions, public interventions and actions; and collaborated with institutions and political movements. Their aim was to lend support and bring artistic engagement to protests against the ongoing war in Vietnam, the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile, and the apartheid regime in South Africa, and they were aligned in international solidarity for anti-colonial struggles. Past Disquiet brings together contributions from scholars, curators and writers who reflect on these marginalized histories and undertakings that took place in Baghdad, Beirut, Belgrade, Damascus, Paris, Rabat, Tokyo, and Warsaw. The book also offers translations of primary texts and recent interviews with some of the artists involved.
This extensively illustrated book examines Greenaway's vision from a number of perspectives and traces a shift of sensibility in his work. David Pascoe examines not only Greenaway's films, but also his paintings, exhibitions and installations.
"[Pascoe] tirelessly explicates the numerology and mytho-mania that are the film-maker's organising principles"—The Guardian
"A supremely intelligent, utterly tuned-in, definitive exploration of the ultimate British auteur's back catalogue, helpfully illustrated at every opportunity. . . illuminating"—Empire
Though we live in a time when memory seems to be losing its hold on communities, memory remains central to personal, communal, and national identities. And although popular and public discourses from speeches to films invite a shared sense of the past, official sites of memory such as memorials, museums, and battlefields embody unique rhetorical principles.
Places of Public Memory: The Rhetoric of Museums and Memorials is a sustained and rigorous consideration of the intersections of memory, place, and rhetoric. From the mnemonic systems inscribed upon ancient architecture to the roadside accident memorials that line America’s highways, memory and place have always been deeply interconnected. This book investigates the intersections of memory and place through nine original essays written by leading memory studies scholars from the fields of rhetoric, media studies, organizational communication, history, performance studies, and English. The essays address, among other subjects, the rhetorical strategies of those vying for competing visions of a 9/11 memorial at New York City’s Ground Zero; rhetorics of resistance embedded in the plans for an expansion of the National Civil Rights Museum; representations of nuclear energy—both as power source and weapon—in Cold War and post–Cold War museums; and tours and tourism as acts of performance.
By focusing on “official” places of memory, the collection causes readers to reflect on how nations and local communities remember history and on how some voices and views are legitimated and others are minimized or erased.
This book explores the relationships between four modernist poets and the museums that helped shape their writing. During the early twentieth century, museums were trying to reach a wider audience and used displayed objects to teach that audience about art, culture, and ecology. Writers such as Yeats, Pound, Moore, and Stein borrowed strategies and techniques from museums in order to create literary modernism. Poetry in the Museums of Modernism places these writers' poetry and prose within the context of specific gallery spaces, curatorial practices, displayed objects, and exhibition objectives of the museums that inspired them, exposing the ways in which literary modernism is linked to museums.
Although critics have attested to the importance of the visual arts to literary modernists and have begun to explore the relationships between literary production and social institutions, before now no one has examined the particular institutions in which modernist poets found the artworks, specimens, and other artifacts that inspired their literary innovations. Catherine Paul's book offers the reader a fresh encounter with modernism that will interest literary and art historians, literary theorists, critics, and scholars in cultural studies and museum studies.
Catherine Paul is Associate Professor of English, Clemson University.
Heritage preservation is a broad term that can include the protection of a wide range of human-mediated material and cultural processes ranging from specific artifacts, ancient rock art, and features of the built environment and modified landscapes. As a region of multiple independent nations and colonial territories, the Caribbean shares a common heritage at some levels, yet at the same time there are vast historical and cultural differences. Likewise, approaches to Caribbean heritage preservation are similarly diverse in range and scope.
This volume addresses the problem of how Caribbean nations deal with the challenges of protecting their cultural heritages or patrimonies within the context of pressing economic development concerns. Is there formal legislation that requires cultural patrimony to be considered prior to the approval of development projects? Does legislation apply only to government-funded projects or to private ones as well? Are there levels of legislation: local, regional, national? Are heritage preservation laws enforced? For whom is the heritage protected and what public outreach is implemented to disseminate the information acquired and retained?
In this volume, practitioners of heritage management on the frontline of their own islands address the current state of affairs across the Caribbean to present a comprehensive overview of Caribbean heritage preservation challenges. Considerable variability is seen in how determined and serious different nations are in approaching the responsibilities of heritage preservation. Packaging these diverse scenarios into a single volume is a critical step in raising awareness of the importance of protecting and judiciously managing an ever-diminishing fund of Caribbean heritage for all.
Todd M. Ahlman / Benoît Bérard / Milton Eric Branford / Richard T. Callaghan / Kevin Farmer / R. Grant Gilmore III / Jay B. Haviser / Ainsley C. Henriques / William F. Keegan / Bruce J. Larson / Paul E. Lewis / Vel Lewis / Reg Murphy / Michael P. Pateman / Winston F. Phulgence / Esteban Prieto Vicioso / Basil A. Reid / Andrea Richards / Elizabeth Righter / Kelley Scudder-Temple / Peter E. Siegel / Christian Stouvenot / Daniel Torres Etayo
The Native American casino and gaming industry has attracted unprecedented American public attention to life on reservations. Other tribal public venues, such as museums and powwows, have also gained in popularity among non-Native audiences and become sites of education and performance.
In PublicNative America, Mary Lawlor explores the process of tribal self-definition that the communities in her study make available to off-reservation audiences. Focusing on architectural and interior designs as well as performance styles, she reveals how a complex and often surprising cultural dynamic is created when Native Americans create lavish displays for the public’s participation and consumption.
Drawing on postcolonial and cultural studies, Lawlor argues that these venues serve as a stage where indigenous communities play out delicate negotiations—on the one hand retaining traditional beliefs and rituals, while on the other, using what they have learned about U.S. politics, corporate culture, tourism, and public relations to advance their economic positions.
In the late nineteenth century, Japan's new Meiji government established museums to showcase a national aesthetic heritage. Inspired by Western museums and expositions, these institutions were introduced by government officials hoping to spur industrialization and self-disciplined public behavior, and to cultivate an "imperial public" loyal to the emperor. Japan's network of museums expanded along with its colonies. By the mid-1930s, the Japanese museum system had established or absorbed institutions in Taiwan, Korea, Sakhalin, and Manchuria. Not surprising, colonial subjects' views of Japanese imperialism differed from those promulgated by the Japanese state. Meanwhile, in Japan, philanthropic and commercial museums were expanding, revising, and even questioning the state-sanctioned aesthetic canon. Public Properties describes how museums in Japan and its empire contributed to the reimagining of state and society during the imperial era, despite vigorous disagreements about what was to be displayed, how, and by whom it was to be seen.
A tragic landmark in the civil rights movement, the Lorraine Motel in Memphis is best known for what occurred there on April 4, 1968. As he stood on the balcony of Room 306, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, ending a golden age of nonviolent resistance, and sparking riots in more than one hundred cities. Formerly a seedy, segregated motel, and prior to that a brothel, the motel quickly achieved the status of national shrine. The motel attracts a variety of pilgrims—white politicians seeking photo ops, aging civil rights leaders, New Age musicians, and visitors to its current incarnation, the National Civil Rights Museum. A moving and emotional account that comprises a panorama of voices, Room 306 is an important oral history unlike any other.
Winner, Outstanding Academic Title 2017, Choice Magazine
The nineteenth century witnessed a dramatic shift in the display and dissemination of natural knowledge across Britain and America, from private collections of miscellaneous artifacts and objects to public exhibitions and state-sponsored museums. The science museum as we know it—an institution of expert knowledge built to inform a lay public—was still very much in formation during this dynamic period. Science Museums in Transition provides a nuanced, comparative study of the diverse places and spaces in which science was displayed at a time when science and spectacle were still deeply intertwined; when leading naturalists, curators, and popular showmen were debating both how to display their knowledge and how and whether they should profit from scientific work; and when ideals of nationalism, class politics, and democracy were permeating the museum’s walls.
Contributors examine a constellation of people, spaces, display practices, experiences, and politics that worked not only to define the museum, but to shape public science and scientific knowledge. Taken together, the chapters in this volume span the Atlantic, exploring private and public museums, short and long-term exhibitions, and museums built for entertainment, education, and research, and in turn raise a host of important questions, about expertise, and about who speaks for nature and for history.
The so-called “Bone Wars” of the 1880s, which pitted Edward Drinker Cope against Othniel Charles Marsh in a frenzy of fossil collection and discovery, may have marked the introduction of dinosaurs to the American public, but the second Jurassic dinosaur rush, which took place around the turn of the twentieth century, brought the prehistoric beasts back to life. These later expeditions—which involved new competitors hailing from leading natural history museums in New York, Chicago, and Pittsburgh—yielded specimens that would be reconstructed into the colossal skeletons that thrill visitors today in museum halls across the country.
Reconsidering the fossil speculation, the museum displays, and the media frenzy that ushered dinosaurs into the American public consciousness, Paul Brinkman takes us back to the birth of dinomania, the modern obsession with all things Jurassic. Featuring engaging and colorful personalities and motivations both altruistic and ignoble, The Second Jurassic Dinosaur Rush shows that these later expeditions were just as foundational—if not more so—to the establishment of paleontology and the budding collections of museums than the more famous Cope and Marsh treks. With adventure, intrigue, and rivalry, this is science at its most swashbuckling.
Winner of the 29th annual Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Studies
All museums are sex museums. In Sex Museums, Jennifer Tyburczy takes a hard look at the formation of Western sexuality—particularly how categories of sexual normalcy and perversity are formed—and asks what role museums have played in using display as a technique for disciplining sexuality. Most museum exhibits, she argues, assume that white, patriarchal heterosexuality and traditional structures of intimacy, gender, and race represent national sexual culture for their visitors. Sex Museums illuminates the history of such heteronormativity at most museums and proposes alternative approaches for the future of public display projects, while also offering the reader curatorial tactics—what she calls queer curatorship—for exhibiting diverse sexualities in the twenty-first century.
Tyburczy shows museums to be sites of culture-war theatrics, where dramatic civic struggles over how sex relates to public space, genealogies of taste and beauty, and performances of sexual identity are staged. Delving into the history of erotic artifacts, she analyzes how museums have historically approached the collection and display of the material culture of sex, which poses complex moral, political, and logistical dilemmas for the Western museum. Sex Museums unpacks the history of the museum and its intersections with the history of sexuality to argue that the Western museum context—from its inception to the present—marks a pivotal site in the construction of modern sexual subjectivity.
Illinois State Historical Society Superior Achievement Award 2015
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois, houses a trove of invaluable historical resources concerning all aspects of the Prairie State’s past. Treasures of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library commemorates the institution’s 125-year history, as well as its contributions to scholarship and education by highlighting a selection of eighty-five treasures from among more than twelve million items in the library’s collections.
After opening with a historical overview and extensive chronology of the Library, the volume organizes the treasures by various topics, including items that illustrate various locations and materials relating to business, the mid-nineteenth century and the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the oldest items, unusual treasures, ethnicity, and art. From the Gettysburg Address, Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s letters, and Governor Dan Walker’s boots to a Deering Harvester Company catalog, WPA publications, and an Adlai Stevenson I campaign hat, each entry includes a thorough description of the item, one or more images, and a discussion of its history and how the library acquired it, if known. Other treasures include the Thomas Yates General Store daybook, Dubin Pullman car materials, Civil War newspapers, a Lincoln coffin photograph, the Mary Lincoln insanity verdict, the Directory of Sangamon County’s Colored Citizens, andLincoln’s stovepipe hat.
To highlight the academic importance of the Library, nineteen researchers share how study in the Library’s collections proved essential to their projects. Although these treasures only scrape the surface of the vast holdings of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, together they epitomize the rich, varied, and sometimes quirky resources available to both serious scholars and curious tourists alike at this valuable cultural institution.
Although libraries and museums for many centuries have taken the lead, under one rational or another, in recovering, storing, and displaying various kinds of culture of their periods, lately, as the gap between elite and popular culture has apparently widened, these repositories of artifacts of the present for the future have tended to drift more and more to what many people call the aesthetically pleasing elements of our culture. The degree to which our libraries and museums have ignored our culture is terrifying, when one scans the documents and artifacts of our time which, if history in any wise repeats itself, will in the immediate and distant future become valuable indices of our present culture to future generations. As Professor Schroeder dramatically states it, “No doubt about it, it is the contemporary popular culture that is the endangered species.”
The essays in this book investigate the reasons for present-day neglect of popular culture materials and chart the various routes by which conscientious and insightful librarians and museum directors can correct this disastrous oversight.
In almost thirty interviews, Donatien Grau probes some of the world’s most prominent thinkers and preeminent arts leaders on the past, present, and future of the encyclopedic museum.
Over the last two decades, the encyclopedic museum has been criticized and praised, constantly discussed, and often in the news. Encyclopedic museums are a phenomenon of Europe and the United States, and their locations and mostly Eurocentric collections have in more recent years drawn attention to what many see as bias. Debates on provenance in general, cultural origins, and restitutions of African heritage have exerted pressure on encyclopedic museums, and indeed on all matter of museums. Is there still a place for an institution dedicated to gathering, preserving, and showcasing all the world’s cultures?
Donatien Grau’s conversations with international arts officials, museum leaders, artists, architects, and journalists go beyond the history of the encyclopedic format and the last decades’ issues that have burdened existing institutions. Are encyclopedic museums still relevant? What can they contribute when the Internet now seems to offer the greater encyclopedia? How important is it for us to have in-person access to objects from all over the world that can directly articulate something to us about humanity? The fresh ideas and nuances of new voices on the core principles important to museums in Dakar, Abu Dhabi, and Mumbai complement some of the world’s arts leaders from European and American institutions—resulting in some revealing and unexpected answers. Every interviewee offers differing views, making for exciting, stimulating reading.
Includes interviews with Marc Fumaroli, Collège de France; Partha Chatterjee, Columbia University; Krzysztof Pomian, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales; Mikhail Piotrovsky, State Hermitage Museum; Philippe de Montebello, New York University; Grayson Perry, artist; Thomas Campbell, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Kaywin Feldman, National Gallery of Art; Mari Carmen Ramírez, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Irina Bokova, UNESCO; Fiammetta Rocco, The Economist; Zaki Nusseibeh, United Arab Emirates; Michael Govan, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Max Hollein, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Sabyasachi Mukherjee, CSMVB Mumbai; Henri Loyrette, Museé du Louvre; George Abungu, National Museums of Kenya; Hamady Bocoum, Museé des Civilisationes Noires, Dakar; Amit Sood, Google Arts & Culture; James Cuno, J. Paul Getty Trust; Jean Nouvel, architect; Bénédicte Savoy; Kavita Singh, Jawarhlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Anthony Appiah, New York University; Homi Bhabha, Harvard University; Camille Henrot, artist; Massimiliano Gioni, New Museum; and Bachir Souleymane Diagne, Columbia University.
Vermeer's Wager stands at the intersection of art history and criticism, philosophy and museology. Using a familiar and celebrated painting by Johannes Vermeer as a case study, Ivan Gaskell explores what it might mean to know and use a work of art. He argues that art history as generally practiced, while successfully asserting certain claims to knowledge, fails to take into account aspects of the unique character of works of art. Our relationship to art is mediated, not only through reproduction – particularly photography – but also through displays in museums. In an analysis that ranges from seventeenth-century Holland, through mid-nineteenth-century France, to artists' and curators' practice today, Gaskell draws on his experience of Dutch art history, philosophy and contemporary art criticism. Anyone with an interest in Vermeer and the afterlife of his art will value this book, as will all who think seriously about the role of photography in perception and the core purposes of art museums.