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Category: Museums

Leave the Durham memorial on the ground

Leave the Durham memorial on the ground

[originally published on Medium]  Aug 15, 2017 Leave the Durham memorial on the ground I’ve been teaching about memorials for over a decade. My goal has always been to help students understand the historical nuance of memorials: what they meant when they were constructed, the political processes that shaped them, the ways that their meanings changed over time. But I must admit: the video of the Durham confederate memorial being toppled gave me a visceral thrill. The confident way Takiyah Thompson climbed…

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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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Museums are places to forget

Museums are places to forget

Museums are places to forget. An essay, illustrated with poems and images, on the ways that museums are used to forget things that society would prefer not to remember, and the ways in which museum forget things they should remember. On Medium.  https://medium.com/@lubar/museums-are-places-to-forget-ba76a92c5701

New book!

New book!

I’m thrilled to announce that my new book is almost out! You can pre-order it on Amazon! Find it at an independent bookseller at IndieBound! Read all about it at the Harvard University Press site! Available in July! Great blurbs! My deep thanks to Lonnie Bunch and Richard Kurin for their kind words: “In this volume, Steven Lubar, among the most thoughtful scholars and professionals in the field, turns “museum” into a verb, taking us behind the scenes to show how collecting, exhibiting, and…

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Catalog History: The New York Crystal Palace

Catalog History: The New York Crystal Palace

A four part series on Medium, “Cataloging History,” on the history and practice of museum catalogs, focusing on the publications of the 1853 New York Crystal Palace fair: Part 1: A brief history of American museum catalogs to 1860 Part 2: The New York Crystal Palace Catalogs Part 3: Catalog as Book, File, and Database And coming soon! Part 4, on what we can learn from analyzing the catalog as database.   Why Medium for these? I’m experimenting with heavily illustrated essays, and…

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What might historic preservation learn from museums?

What might historic preservation learn from museums?

Every year, the Providence Preservation Society sponsors a symposium on key issues in historic preservation. This year’s symposium, on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1966 historic preservation act, asked:  Why Preserve?  From the introduction: The 2016 Providence Symposium, Why Preserve?, will bring together experts from across the nation as well as local stakeholders to examine why historic preservation matters to Providence and all communities. To be held at the iconic but threatened Industrial Trust Building, the Symposium will launch a…

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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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The Whaling Museum’s Collections Development Plan, done!

The Whaling Museum’s Collections Development Plan, done!

  It’s done! For the past year or so I’ve been working with staff and other Collections Committee members at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on a new collections development plan. It’s been an interesting experience. Collections development plans are a fairly new thing for museums. They are part of a general transition in how museums think of collections. Stephen Weil’s famous 1999 essay sums it up: “From Being about Something to Being for Somebody.” Museums once existed for their collections….

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