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By Sharon Macdonald

What is going on at the back of closed doorways at museums? How are judgements approximately exhibitions made and who, or what, rather makes them? Why are convinced gadgets and types of reveal selected while others are rejected, and what components effect how museum exhibitions are produced and skilled? This ebook solutions those looking questions through giving a privileged glance ‘behind the scenes’ on the technology Museum in London. via monitoring the heritage of a selected exhibition, Macdonald takes the reader into the realm of the museum curator and indicates in brilliant element how exhibitions are created and the way public tradition is produced. She unearths why exhibitions don't constantly mirror their makers’ unique intentions and why viewers take domestic specific interpretations. past this ‘local’ context, although, the booklet additionally offers vast and far-reaching insights into how nationwide and worldwide political shifts impression the construction of public wisdom via exhibitions.

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Sample text

Book Structure In this book I bring together an account of exhibitionary production with analysis of the finished exhibition and visitor study of it. In doing so, I have struggled over two particular presentational difficulties: (1) Whether to keep these three dimensions – production, text, consumption – separate (as to some extent they were in the real time of the research) or to allow them to overlap (which helps to throw some of the issues into relief and make the analytic point that they are interrelated); (2) Whether to give a narrative rendering of exhibitionproduction or to focus on themes.

I have discussed strengths of an ethnographic perspective in relation to the Science Museum in particular and organisations more generally in Macdonald 2001. Other chapters in the collection by Gellner and Hirsch 2001 also highlight reasons for an anthropological perspective on organisations, as do chapters in Wright 1994. Book-length ethnographic accounts of organisations which I have found illuminating include: on museums and museumlike institutions – Davis 1997 and Handler and Gable 1997; on culture producers – Becker 1982, Born 1995, Miller 1997, Wulff 1998; and on science and technology – Downey 1998; Gusterson 1996, Kidder 1982, Latour and Woolgar 1979, Law 1994, Rabinow 1996, Traweek 1988, and Zabusky 1995.

There were two main types of these new independent museums, with a variety of hybrids between the two including new local authority museums (such as the North of England Open Air Museum at Beamish, County Durham). 54 Then there were attractions which involved paid staff and which were more commercially-orientated and made an admission charge. As both of these types of new museum had tourist potential, they sometimes also became eligible for funding as part of urban regeneration programmes. 55 While this covered some of the same subject matter as museums of science and industry, the ‘new heritage’ tended to present a ‘total environment’ which the visitor entered and ‘experienced’ (‘experience’ being a key word in the advertising leaflets, and one that we shall meet again in the Science Museum).

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