Defining the Modern Museum: A Case Study of the Challenges of Exchange
Published: February 2013© 2013
240 Pages, 6.33 x 9.30 x 0.80 in, 14 illustrations
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Defining the Modern Museum is a fascinating exploration of the museum as a cultural institution. Emphasizing museums' relationship to schools, libraries, and government agencies, this interdisciplinary study challenges long-standing assumptions about museums – revealing their messy, uncertain origins, and belying the standard narrative of their educational purpose having been corrupted by corporate goals.
Using theoretical models and extensive archival research, Lianne McTavish examines the case of Canada's oldest continuing public museum, the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John. Focusing on the period between 1842 and the 1950s, McTavish addresses topics such as the transnational exchange of objects between museums, efforts by women to claim space within the organization, the creation of Carnegie libraries, and the rising status of curators.
Shedding light on many topics of current interest, especially the commodification and globalization of museums, this study makes a lively contribution to museum studies and cultural studies.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Introduction The Impossible Museum
Chapter One Exchanging Values in the Nineteenth-Century Museum Marketplace
Chapter Two Learning to See: Vision, Visuality and Material Culture, 1862-1929
Chapter Three Offering Orientalism: Women and the Gift Economy of the Museum, 1880-1940
Chapter Four Libraries and Museums: Shifting Relationships, 1830-1940
Chapter Five Gendered Professionals: Debating the Ideal Museum Worker during the 1930s and 1940s
‘Defining the Modern Museum offers a new way to think about museums by emphasizing their interrelationships and relationships with other institutions…This book is recommended for historians of critical museum theory as well as for curators and historians exploring the narratives of their own institutions.’Paul Robertson, Canadian Historical Review vol 95:03:2014
‘McTavish’s case study is a welcome addition to the literature on museums and museological theory, and will be of particular interest to scholars and students interested in gender, regional identity, and visual art.’Davina M. DesRoches, Topia: the Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies vol 35:2016