By Charles Saumarez Smith, Ludmilla Jordanova, Colin Sorensen, Paul Greenhalgh, Stephen Bann, Philip Wright, Nick Merriman, Norman Palmer
With essays by means of Charles Saumarez Smith, Ludmilla Jordanova, Paul Greenhalgh, Colin Sorensen, Nick Merriman, Stephen Bann, Philip Wright, Norman Palmer and Peter Vergo."A vigorous and arguable symposium ... thought-provoking"—The Sunday instances (Paperbacks of the yr, 1989)"The essays are all amazing by means of their topicality and lucidity."—Museum News"A welcome boost to the library of Museology"—Art Monthly"The New Museology is vital interpreting for all these looking to comprehend the present debate in museum ideologies."—International magazine of Museum administration and Scholarship
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But does this make museums simply expressions of social interests? At this point it has to be admitted that some museums are more coercive than others. I mean by this that there are a variety of ways in which these institutions can express their guiding assumptions and bring them to the attention of visitors. At any given point in time the members of a particular society will find that some of these assumptions strike home more effectively than others. In such cases we are entitled to speak of the representational practices of a museum as 'coercive'.
Childhood' is an abstraction, a concept of such generality that it is hard to imagine how any object could embody it except by a device like personification. ':' Not so in a museum of childhood, where visitors are invited to assent to the illusion that they are achieving real insights from the items on display. Also, 'childhood' is a name we give to a vastly complex and 3° LUDM ILLA JORDANOVA Mo dels of toy sellers in the Bethna l Green Museum of Chi ldhood . Objects of Knouiledge: A Historical Perspective on Museums 3I variable set of experiences.
Objects are triggers of chains of ideas and images that go far beyond their initial starting-point. Feelings about the antiquity, the authenticity, the beauty, the craftsmanship, the poignancy of objects are the stepping-stones towards fantasies, which can have aesthetic, historical, macabre or a thousand other attributes. " The 'knowledge' that museums facilitate has the quality of fantasy because it is only possible via an imaginative process. The ways in which the contents of museums are presented lead to, but do not fully determine, what visitors experience and learn.