208 pages, 20 figs
Are museums irrelevant? Museums are rarely acknowledged in the global discussion of climate change, environmental degradation, the inevitability of depleted fossil fuels, and the myriad local issues concerning the well-being of particular communities - suggesting the irrelevance of museums as social institutions. At the same time, there is a growing preoccupation among museums with the marketplace, and museums, unwittingly or not, are embracing the values of relentless consumption that underlie the planetary difficulties of today. "Museums in a Troubled World" argues that much more can be expected of museums as publicly supported and knowledge-based institutions.
The weight of tradition and a lack of imagination are significant factors in museum inertia and these obstacles are also addressed. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, combining anthropology ethnography, museum studies and management theory, this book goes beyond conventional museum thinking. Robert R. Janes explores the meaning and role of museums as key intellectual and civic resources in a time of profound social and environmental change.
In 1973, Ivan Illich wrote "I believe that a desirable future depends on our deliberately choosing a life of action [!] rather than maintaining a lifestyle which [!] is merely a way station on the road to the depletion and pollution of the environment - the future depends upon our choice of institutions which support a life of action." After decades of museum self-help manuals and collections of papers on museum studies, Museums in a Troubled World argues that it is not enough for museums to do their work better -- they have to ask once again what their real work should be. Beginning with a powerful Prologue that sets the moral tenor of the whole book, each chapter deals with a specific challenge we face as a planet and as a society. Intelligent, passionate and provocative, Janes reminds us all that the museum can -- and must -- play a leading role in building a sustainable future. -- Dr. James M. Bradburne, Director General, Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, Italy
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