Reflecting critically on the current condition of museums and their possible futures, Stephen E. Weil argues that cultural institutions need to free themselves from a fascination with technique and process to concentrate more intently on purpose. He contends that to succeed, or merely survive, a museum must be able to project clear goals that its supporting community finds of value and must demonstrate its competence to achieve those goals on a sustainable basis.Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995
Museums today are more than familiar cultural institutions and showplaces of accumulated objects; they are the sites of interaction between personal and collective identities, between memory and history. The essays in this volume consider museums from personal experience and historical study, and from the memories of museum visitors, curators, and scholars.
Representing a variety of fields—history, anthropology, art history, and museum scholarship—the contributors discuss museums across disciplinary boundaries that have separated art museums from natural history museums or local history museums from national galleries. The essays range widely over time (from the Renaissance to the second half of the twentieth century), and place (China, Japan, the United States, and Germany), in exhibitions explored (photography, Native American history, and “Jurassic technology”), and institution (the Chinese Imperial Collection, Renaissance curiosity cabinets, and modern art museums).
Memory operates thematically among the essays in diverse and provocative ways. The papers are organized according to three suggestive themes: experimental ways of theorizing and designing contemporary museums with an explicit interest in history and memory; discussions of personal encounters with historical exhibits; and the professional risks at stake for collectors and curators who shape the institutional presentation of history and memory.
The contributors are Susan A. Crane, Wolfgang Ernst, Michael Fehr, Paula Findlen, Tamara Hamlish, Alexis Joachimides, Suzanne Marchand, Julia A. Thomas, and Diana Drake Wilson.Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000
The last thirty years of the twentieth century saw the birth of more than six hundred art museums in the United States alone, with equal proliferation in much of Europe. Such projects as Frank Gehry's Guggenheim in Bilbao and Richard Meier's Getty Center in Los Angeles have dominated television newscasts and newspaper headlines worldwide. The success or failure of these new museums, in aesthetic, educational and financial terms, results from a variety of factors, none more important than their architecture.
In this unique investigation, architectural historian Victoria Newhouse challenges many hitherto accepted premises of museum design. She demonstrates that new museums are often based on old concepts that no longer apply. This unvarnished analysis is informed by interviews with museum directors and curators, collectors, artists and the architects themselves.
Newhouse divides her discussion according to the dominant characteristics of the museums: private collections, single-artist museums, sacred spaces, artists' self-created sites, and museum additions. In addition to the Getty and the Guggenheim Bilbao, the author discusses the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas; the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; the Kiasma Museum for Contemporary Art in Helsinki; Donald Judd's Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas; the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Grand Louvre and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; and many more.