By Steven Conn

"We reside in a museum age," writes Steven Conn in Do Museums nonetheless want Objects? And certainly, on the flip of the twenty-first century, extra everyone is traveling museums than ever earlier than. There at the moment are over 17,500 authorized 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 while older ones have passed through transformational additions: from the Museum of contemporary artwork and the Morgan in manhattan to the excessive in Atlanta and the Getty in la. If the golden age of museum-building got here a century in the past, while the Metropolitan Museum of paintings, the yank Museum of average background, the Philadelphia Museum of artwork, the sector Museum of normal historical past, and others have been created, then it's reasonable to assert that during the final new release we've witnessed a moment golden age.

By heavily staring at 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 visible easily as homes for collections of gadgets. Conn levels throughout a wide selection of museum types—from artwork and anthropology to technological know-how and advertisement museums—asking questions on the connection among museums and data, concerning the connection among tradition and politics, concerning 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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Ironically, the theme around which NMAI organized itself is that Indians are still here—summarized by the museum’s gruesome neologism ‘‘survivance’’—but the objects that might be used to demonstrate the connection between past and present, to give it a threedimensional, tactile reality, in the exhibits at NMAI have not survived. Whether through repatriation or in museum strategies that rely on curators from inside a particular group, Kroeber’s definitional dilemmas remain for anthropological objects.

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.

Several other museums of this sort here and abroad are in the works as I write this. At one level, I think, these museums function more as memorial projects than as museums in the traditional sense. We no longer pay much attention to the more or less static shrines and statues with which we used to commemorate important historical events, and the solemn promises made that in our midst those memorials would serve as a constant reminder to us have largely been broken. As objects themselves, these memorials have lost much of their original power.

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