144 pages, 35 illustrations
Over the last twenty years museums have proliferated, attracting new audiences and assuming new prominence in public life. The Return of Curiosity offers a fresh perspective on museums and what they may now be good for. Nicholas Thomas argues that what is special about museums are their collections, which are not just rich resources for reflection, but creative technologies that enable people to make new things in the present.Reflecting on art galleries, science and history institutions, and museums around the world, Thomas shows that in times marked by insecurity and increasing conflict, museums can help to sustain and enrich society. They stimulate a curiosity that is vital to understanding and negotiating the cosmopolitan but dangerous world we all now inhabit. The Return of Curiosity is a book that anyone who visits and enjoys museums will find engaging and stimulating. Curators, arts and heritage professionals, policymakers and all museum studies teachers and students need to own and read this influential book.
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Nicholas Thomas has curated exhibitions in many countries and has been the Director of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge since 2006. His many books include Islanders: The Pacific in the Age of Empire (2012), which won the Wolfson History Prize, as well as Tattoo: Bodies, Art and Exchange in the Pacific and Europe (Reaktion, 2005).