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Museums Matter: In Praise of the Encyclopedic Museum
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 pro ...more
Hardcover, 164 pages
Published January 9th 2012 by University Of Chicago Press
(first published December 15th 2011)
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A rousing defense of cosmopolitanism, told through the development of the public museum. It's a defense of travel for all of us unable to afford the rigors of international movement. The enlightenment, encyclopedic collections as a base upon which the rich cultures, ideas, movements of the world can be appreciated. It puts to shame those of us who visit art museums to see what we like: it's an education, possibly the most essential for maintaining comprehensive human relations. A shot's taken at ...more
Although I came to this work largely agreeing with Cuno (and having enjoyed numerous other works he's written or edited on this issue), this one was disappointing. He spent much of the work discussing cosmopolitanism and the various ways one could approach knowledge and culture, without a clear connection to museums (beyond the obvious 'culture matters'), let alone an argument why museums actually matter. More time was spent, it seems, on 20th century Indian politics or debates over various book ...more