Debating the practices of museums, galleries, and festivals, Exhibiting Cultures probes the often politically charged relationships among aesthetics, contexts, and implicit assumptions that govern how art and artifacts are displayed and understood. The contributors—museum directors, curators, and scholars in art history, folklore, history, and anthropology—represent a variety of stances on the role of museums and their function as intermediaries between the makers of art or artifacts and the eventual viewers.
A collection of essays about museums and folk festivals from the early 90's. The essays are from different authors, so, as expected, their performance is a bit uneven. Some essays offer really thoughtful points to anyone thinking about identity and ideology in the study of museums. Other essays are complete dogshit (Yamaguchi's essay on "The Poetics of Exhibition in Japanese Culture" strikes me as the most egregious in the dogshit category...it is a bullshit attempt to essentialize all of Japanese culture). Still, I found many of the essays helpful for thinking about museums.
This collection of essays definitely feels a bit dated, but it's a very important fist-step in-roads for students of Museology and the broad concept of Museum Studies as an aspect of cultural sociology.
Some of the articles have aged much better than others...
This anthology examines the political implications inherent in the cultural assumptions, aesthetic values, and exhibitory contexts that are implicit in the choices governing the display of art and artifacts, with museums as intermediaries between the makers/users of artifacts and exhibit viewers. The book emphasizes the need for contributions from exhibited cultures, deeper expertise in non-Western and minority culture, and experimental exhibition design that allows for multiple perspectives and a metacritical admission of the curator’s agency.
The one article that made this more than a college textbook was "Why Museums Made Me Sad." I do have concerns that pillage might be our irreparable destiny, and museums do put that on display however wonderfully.