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Foundations of Museum Studies: Chapter 1 Notes

by: Sarah Gayda

Foundations of Museum Studies: Chapter 1 Notes MUSM:3001:0001

Marketplace > University of Iowa > Museum Studies > MUSM:3001:0001 > Foundations of Museum Studies Chapter 1 Notes
Sarah Gayda

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About this Document

Notes for chapter 1 from the book "Foundations of Museum Studies" by Latham and Simmons
Introduction to Museum Studies
Heidi Lung
Class Notes
Museum, Studies, MuseumStudies, Foundations, history, Of, museums
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sarah Gayda on Friday September 16, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to MUSM:3001:0001 at University of Iowa taught by Heidi Lung in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Museum Studies in Museum Studies at University of Iowa.

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Date Created: 09/16/16
Foundations of Museum Studies: Chapter 1 Notes I. Etymology of the Word Museum a. Meaning derives from temple of the muses-1 “museum” st i. Term 1 used in reference to collection of Medici family in Florence, Italy ii. First published use in English= 1615, Library of Alexandria b. Defining museums from Professional Organization i. There’s the previously stated ICOM definition ii. American Alliance of Museums: doesn’t have an official definition but they consider archeological and botanical sites as parks 1. However, AAM accreditation committee defines museum as: a. Organized, not for profit, permanent institution, essentially educational or esthetic in purpose, with professional staff, that owns or uses tangible objects, cares for them, and exhibits them to the public on some regular schedule. 2. Further criterion on list: a. Legally organized b. Be essentially educational in nature c. Have a formerly stated and approved mission d. Be site for public presentation e. Have formal and appropriate programs of documentation for objects (as well as documentation for care+use of objects) f. Been open to public for min of 2 years g. Have accessioned 80% of permanent collection h. Have necessary financial resources to effectively operate 3. Canadian Museum Assoc. Definition: a. Created in public interest. Engage visitors and foster deeper understanding and promote sharing of authentic cultural and historical heritage. They acquire, preserve, research and interpret evidence of nature and society II. Museum Models a. There are 2 Broad categories used to sort museums from similar institutions i. Function: to collect, to conserve, to educate, to interpret, to research, to exhibit, to serve ii. Type-art, art center, anthropology, aquarium, arboretum, botanical garden, children’s, herbarium, history, historic house, science center, natural history, planetarium, gallery, zoo. b. All museums collect, catalogue, care for, and interpret objects in their collections i. 5 kinds of museums: 1. Museum as Mausoleum: You go to museum to see old things, to find yourself an aesthete or scholar; above all, a place connected to the past. A silent experience. 2. Museum as Machine: Productive; where you go to be transformed, to learn (about present); you emerge informed, educated, changed; a place of quiet instruction 3. Museum as Metaphor: Extravagant, flamboyant, romantic; no longer pursues an audience but provides us with central arena of sociability 4. Museum as Mall: Devoted to pleasure, over merchandised. Collection becomes commodity 5. Museum as Mindful: Aware of itself, obviously and primarily about objects it owns/has; objects are essential to experience; encourages conversation but doesn’t force info. ii. Museums should be mindful and adaptable, and can serve more than one of the above roles for different individuals. III. Legal Organization of Museums a. In USA, museums can be public or private institutions i. Private-created by individuals, and managed by a board and museum officers ii. Public- Established and managed by federal, state or local governments b. Profit vs. Nonprofit i. Nonprofit: Org is exempt from paying most taxes; operated for specific purpose and money earned is invested in organization itself. ii. For profit: Money earned goes to owners and shareholders iii. Biggest difference: Nonprofit collections held in public trust but collections of for profit museums are legally cooperate assets that can be sold-can go to owners or shareholders IV. A working Definition a. Keene’s model of the museum system: Physical production, event, etc. i. Maintain physical source Acquire irreplaceable physical resource Organize resource info +make associations Interesting ideas and stories Research info that makes resource meaningful V. What is the Public Trust? a. Idea of public trust is @ center in US for defining museums i. Can be seen in 2 ways 1. Legally (aspect of common law) 2. Conceptually (as an ethical concern) ii. In nonprofit museums have fiduciary relationship with public 1. Can’t sell property (collections) and property is held for beneficiaries (public) and managed by trustees (museum officials) iii. Museums in US operate in public trust b. Upholding public trust responsibilities entails not only following legal law i. Museums must be loyal to their missions and obey code of ethics c. Code of Ethics i. Proposed by George Brown Goode (Smithsonian Secretary) in 1892 ii. Goal: Raise standard professional practice to above the law VI. Social Responsibility a. Community and social responsibility have become important to usefulness and value of today’s museums i. Community Responsibility: More local involvement in one’s own constituency 1. Support from public may sometimes be all that stands between a museum closing ii. Social Responsibility: A larger purpose, a national or cultural duty to the museum’s overall audience, present and future 1. Museums used to shy away from controversy in US, stating “only facts”. Some continue this tradition, but some have decided to enter the fray VII. Meaningful Physical Resource a. Are meant to advance understanding of a diverse world i. Institutions must have or use the objects, provide public access to them, and be open to present them on a regular basis b. Collection Required? i. Some institutions have objects that may not strictly be perceived as collections (Example: zoos, science centers) ii. There are also institutions that hold collections but don’t allow public access (Example: Museum of Vertebrate Paleontology) 1. There are virtual exhibits, but not physical ones c. Access vs. Meaning i. Digital revolution has increased accessibility of archives (and more) but a study showed patrons imparted more meaning to physical objects than virtual. d. Virtual Museum Studies i. While an attempt at virtual museums was made years ago, it didn’t amount to much iithe social aspect merging with education that is present within physical museums, makes them irreplaceable. VIII.What is Museum Studies? a. Museum Studies=museology (theory) + museography (practice) b. Character of the Field i. Mu1. Comprised of theory and practicedisciplines oti ii. Characterized by 6 features: 1. Inherently interdisciplinary 2. Combination of theory and its application in practice 3. Acknowledges that much of work done is hidden or taken for granted 4. Museum community that is studied is small and close 5.characteristicd the free and open sharing of info are 6. B/c so many collections are held in public trust, museum community strives for transparency and accountability c. Theory and Practice in Museum i. Theory provides frame of reference for analyzing and synthesizing concepts iii. Museum professionals subscribe to 2 common, yet unsaid (tacit) understandings of what MS is d. Museum Studies= Science or Art? i. Museum studies(theoretical) is science, while museum practice can be considered art ii. There is a debate on subject because many claim Museum Studies is more practice than theory e. “M” words: Museality, musealization, and musealia i. Museality: Characteristic of something that in one reality, documents another reality ii. Musealia: Refers to the objects that are the heritage of humanity 1. Are chosen to document some event, person, time, or idea 2. Includes: artifacts, biological specimens, historic sites, and more iii. Musealization: The process by which an object becomes musealia


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