Museum Studies

1st Edition

Rhiannon Mason

Routledge
Published November 13, 2019
Reference - 2110 Pages
ISBN 9781138014350 - CAT# Y164886
Series: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies

USD$1,485.00

Add to Wish List
FREE Standard Shipping!

Summary

Especially in the last several decades, Museum Studies has expanded enormously to become an internationally recognized and highly interdisciplinary academic field. It draws on subjects from across the humanities and social sciences, including Art History, Cultural Studies, Ethnography, Cultural Geography, History, Sociology, Economics, Business, Marketing, and Tourism Studies. (And, beyond the academy, it has also benefited from significant contributions made by cultural policy-makers.)

While intellectual diversity is a great strength of Museum Studies, its complex heritage makes it extremely challenging for the uninitiated to navigate and comprehend the subject’s major works. Indeed, even those who are very familiar with particular disciplinary domains may be unaware of other important parallel debates taking place elsewhere. This new five-volume collection from Routledge, edited by Rhiannon Mason of the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, Newcastle University, responds to that challenge by making readily available in one panoptical ‘mini library’ the foundational and the very best cutting-edge research from the entire range of disciplines and subjects that contribute towards Museum Studies.

In five volumes, the collection addresses the philosophical, theoretical, and ethical concerns of museums—alongside the equally important practical, organizational, and operational issues—to understand how they operate today. The collection also reflects the fact that many of the issues faced by contemporary institutions can only be understood in the context of the philosophy and history of museums as they have developed since the earliest collections of the European Renaissance.

The major works brought together in Volume I (‘Museums: Histories and Theories’) provide a historical and philosophical context for the development of museums. They furnish a comprehensive introduction to the ideas of ‘the new museology’, which are so crucial to current trends in anglophone Museum Studies, and provide a conceptual framework for a fuller understanding of the following volumes.

The scholarship gathered in Volume II (‘Museums: Economics and Management’) situates museums in the everyday context within which they operate, and investigates the different purposes that museums are said to possess by their various stakeholders, for example, as engines of economic regeneration, tourism, or ‘place branding’. Volume II also focuses on the financial costs and practicalities of making museums work, enabling readers to grasp the day-to-day realities of museum work alongside the more philosophical and ethical issues raised in Volume I.

Volume III (‘Museums: Materiality and Practice’), meanwhile, explores the specifics of museum practice to address questions such as: how are exhibitions and displays produced? How is interpretation understood? How are collections managed? And how are objects deployed and architectural spaces navigated? The pieces collected here also tackle other areas of museum practice, including institutional context and staffing. Issues around how institutions behave and develop an ethos, and how museum staff nurture their professional skills and careers, are vital to understanding the broader museum world. As are new trends in curation, such as community co-production, and the increasing range of ways in which museums are being reconceptualized beyond their physical walls, for example, as performance spaces or platforms for user-generated digital content.

Volume IV (‘Museums: Visitors, Audiences, Communities, and Publics’) assembles vital research on our interactions with museums. The materials collected here introduce users to the many different ways in which a museum’s public can be understood, imagined, and addressed across the whole gamut of a museum’s activities, from its programming and interpretation to marketing. The volume also takes full cognizance of recent attempts to expand and diversify museum audiences.

The final volume in the collection (‘Museums: Identities, Controversies, and Difficult Histories’) brings together landmark and contemporary studies to interrogate many of the concerns which have repeatedly drawn museums into controversy over recent years. Ways in which museums find themselves caught up in public outrage and censorship include dealing with thorny issues around identity politics and sensitive historical events, such as the Holocaust, colonialism, and slavery.

With a detailed and comprehensive introduction and commentary to each volume, Museum Studies is destined to be welcomed as an essential work of reference and a crucial research tool.

Share this Title