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Category: History of Museums

Announcing a new timeline of museum history

Announcing a new timeline of museum history

I’m pleased to announce a new timeline of museum history. The timeline starts in the 17th century, with the 1628  Gallery of Cornelis van der Geest and Ole Worm’s 1655 Museum Wormianum, and comes up to the present day (Decolonize this Museum! and the Museums Change Lives campaign). It includes  175 entries about exhibits, collections, museum philosophy, and more. The timeline is a complement to my new book, Inside the Lost Museum: Curating, Past and Present, and is organized in…

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“Collecting and Collections” course & stamp exhibit

“Collecting and Collections” course & stamp exhibit

Head over to the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities blog for a post Sarah Dylla and I wrote about our course last semester, AMST1510, Museum Collecting and Collections. And head over to the John Hay Library where you can see the course exhibition, Thousands of Little Colored Windows: Brown University’s Stamp Collections. A few pictures of the exhibit…  

Design Objects in Museums

Design Objects in Museums

[my talk to the Questioning Aesthetics Symposium, RISD, March 2015] The call for papers placed this conference in the context of RISD’s recent interest and success in “transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries to encourage more holistic, multi-faceted approaches to art and design practice.” In my talk I’d like to focus on disciplinary boundaries in how museums use artifacts, and offer some suggestions on how we might transcend some of those traditional boundaries for a more holistic, multi-faceted museum. The disciplines whose boundaries I’d…

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Building a skiascope

Building a skiascope

                “The theoretic value of the skiascope is incontestable.”  —Benjamin Ives Gilman In his Museum Ideals of Purpose and Method (1918 ), Gilman gives detailed instructions for making a skiascope, a device that will allow museum to see paintings and sculptures more clearly, by blocking glare, and other distractions. [scribd id=268670595 key=key-z673RqPg67anzV5ifkqI mode=scroll] The instructions are long and complicated. Here’s a quick pictorial guide: First, cut out the top and bottom Make the wires, and…

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“The Curator Rules”

“The Curator Rules”

These are the slides and my notes from my talk at Marymount University, the Bissel Lecture in the Humanities, presented April 10 as part of the Virginia Humanities Conference. My thanks to Tonya Howe for the invitation, to Marymount for their hospitality, and to the audience for its good questions. [scribd id=261593303 key=key-Cnl9rhuKTMbfV4vLycxp mode=scroll] NOTE: The next entry in this blog is a corrected and expanded version of this talk.

History of museum exhibitions; a Pinterest experiment

History of museum exhibitions; a Pinterest experiment

When I taught a course on the history of museums, I found it useful to have a ready source of historical images of exhibitions from the past 500 years of so. As an experiment, I added Pinterest to my workflow. It’s extremely easy to add an image to a Pinterest board; click a button, correct the caption, and you’re set. And Pinterest makes suggestions, too: other boards with similar images, which makes it easy to explore and find images others…

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The Curator Rules

The Curator Rules

Museum curators have certain ways of doing things, certain rules they follow. It’s important to know what these rules are – and also to realize that they can be broken. These are notes from my talk to Catherine Whalen and Sarah Carter’s “Curatorial Practice as Experiment” course at Bard Graduate School. Catherine asked that I talk about creative curation, to inspire students in the class working on an exhibition project. The assignment got me thinking: what’s creativity? Some part of…

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Writing about the past, thinking about the future: National Museum of American History

Writing about the past, thinking about the future: National Museum of American History

My article on the history and philosophy of collecting at the National Museum of American History has been published in the Federal History Journal. The issue is freely available, here, and my essay is here. It’s a good issue: I especially recommend the article by Margo Anderson, “Public Management of Big Data: Historical Lessons from the 1940s.” My essay was inspired by the 50th anniversary of the NMAH. I used to work there, and a former colleague asked me to write something. The director was…

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