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Collecting and Collecting Institutions AMCV1550. Museums, libraries, and archives: Store materials that represent societys intellectual and artistic essence.

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Presentation on theme: "Collecting and Collecting Institutions AMCV1550. Museums, libraries, and archives: Store materials that represent societys intellectual and artistic essence."— Presentation transcript:

1 Collecting and Collecting Institutions AMCV1550

2 Museums, libraries, and archives: Store materials that represent societys intellectual and artistic essence and support the continuance of the traditions and memories of communities Store materials that represent societys intellectual and artistic essence and support the continuance of the traditions and memories of communities Collections are the foundation of their work and key to their success and public mission Collections are the foundation of their work and key to their success and public mission Decisions about collecting shape what is remembered and valued Decisions about collecting shape what is remembered and valued

3 Libraries and Museums in U.S. 4.8 billion artifacts collected at more than 30,000 repositories in the U.S. 4.8 billion artifacts collected at more than 30,000 repositories in the U.S. Most of these collections are at libraries Most of these collections are at libraries 93% of U.S. museums have permanent collections 93% of U.S. museums have permanent collections About 100 million objects at Smithsonian institutions – mostly bugs and stamps About 100 million objects at Smithsonian institutions – mostly bugs and stamps 9/10ths counties have at least one museum 9/10ths counties have at least one museum 120,000+ libraries in U.S. 120,000+ libraries in U.S.

4 What is a Museum? The AAM Code of Ethics for Museums notes that although museums are diverse, their common denominator is making a "unique contribution to the public by collecting, preserving, and interpreting the things of this world." The AAM Code of Ethics for Museums notes that although museums are diverse, their common denominator is making a "unique contribution to the public by collecting, preserving, and interpreting the things of this world."

5 What is a Library? "A library is a collection of resources in a variety of formats that is (1) organized by information professionals or other experts who (2) provide convenient physical, digital, bibliographic, or intellectual access and (3) offer targeted services and programs (4) with the mission of educating, informing, or entertaining a variety of audiences (5) and the goal of stimulating individual learning and advancing society as a whole." (Whole Library Handbook, p.2) "A library is a collection of resources in a variety of formats that is (1) organized by information professionals or other experts who (2) provide convenient physical, digital, bibliographic, or intellectual access and (3) offer targeted services and programs (4) with the mission of educating, informing, or entertaining a variety of audiences (5) and the goal of stimulating individual learning and advancing society as a whole." (Whole Library Handbook, p.2)

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7 Libraries and the public Libraries among the most trusted local public institutions – 45% give libraries an A for being well run, compared to parks (31%), healthcare (22%), public meeting places (21%), public schools (18%) Libraries among the most trusted local public institutions – 45% give libraries an A for being well run, compared to parks (31%), healthcare (22%), public meeting places (21%), public schools (18%) Libraries should do more to: Libraries should do more to: Provide stronger services for teens Provide stronger services for teens Help address illiteracy and poor reading skills Help address illiteracy and poor reading skills Provide ready access to info about govt services Provide ready access to info about govt services Provide even greater access to computers for all Provide even greater access to computers for all (Public Agenda, Long Overdue: A Fresh Outlook at Public Attitudes about Libraries in the 21 st Century, 2006) (Public Agenda, Long Overdue: A Fresh Outlook at Public Attitudes about Libraries in the 21 st Century, 2006)

8 Museums among the most trustworthy sources of information about the past (Rosenzweig and Thelen) Museums among the most trustworthy sources of information about the past (Rosenzweig and Thelen) Attendance at art museums among few forms of arts participation on the rise (SSPA studies) Attendance at art museums among few forms of arts participation on the rise (SSPA studies) Libraries (57%) and museums (30%) considered the most important cultural institution in America (Ueland Junker McCauley and Nicholson study 2000) Libraries (57%) and museums (30%) considered the most important cultural institution in America (Ueland Junker McCauley and Nicholson study 2000)

9 Same study also showed that objects are considered the most trustworthy source of objective information (43% replied yes, as compared to: Same study also showed that objects are considered the most trustworthy source of objective information (43% replied yes, as compared to: 18% considered books most trustworthy 18% considered books most trustworthy 9% considered newspapers most trustworthy 9% considered newspapers most trustworthy 8% considered internet most trustworthy 8% considered internet most trustworthy 6% considered radio, tv, or magazines most trustworthy 6% considered radio, tv, or magazines most trustworthy

10 Collection realities Objects valued for their objectivity but collecting, organizing and interpreting are selective and subjective processes Objects valued for their objectivity but collecting, organizing and interpreting are selective and subjective processes Collections reveal cultural and political values/agendas (that change over time) Collections reveal cultural and political values/agendas (that change over time) And objects/collectors receive value through connection with museums And objects/collectors receive value through connection with museums Collections care constrained by conditions of museums (budget; facilities; staff) Collections care constrained by conditions of museums (budget; facilities; staff)

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12 Collecting AAM: as stewards of natural and cultural wealth, museums entrusted to ensure: AAM: as stewards of natural and cultural wealth, museums entrusted to ensure: Collections support its mission and are held legally; are documented and protected Collections support its mission and are held legally; are documented and protected Disposal of collections only for advancement of its mission; proceeds used only for acquisition or direct care of collections Disposal of collections only for advancement of its mission; proceeds used only for acquisition or direct care of collections Collections-related activities promote public good, not individual gain Collections-related activities promote public good, not individual gain Use and interpret objects and/or a site for the public presentation of regularly scheduled programs and exhibits Use and interpret objects and/or a site for the public presentation of regularly scheduled programs and exhibits

13 Collecting ICOM: museums have the duty to acquire, preserve and promote their collections as a contribution to safeguarding the natural, cultural and scientific heritage. Their collections are a significant public inheritance, have a special position in law and are protected by international legislation. Inherent in this public trust is the notion of stewardship that includes rightful ownership, permanence, documentation, accessibility and responsible disposal. ICOM: museums have the duty to acquire, preserve and promote their collections as a contribution to safeguarding the natural, cultural and scientific heritage. Their collections are a significant public inheritance, have a special position in law and are protected by international legislation. Inherent in this public trust is the notion of stewardship that includes rightful ownership, permanence, documentation, accessibility and responsible disposal.

14 OBJECTS exhibits ideas programs education identity research

15 Collecting plans Set new priorities by asking: Set new priorities by asking: What do we already have? How will our audience be best served? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current collection? Do we acquire more of what we have or go in new directions? What do we already have? How will our audience be best served? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the current collection? Do we acquire more of what we have or go in new directions? Important to consider – what makes for a good story? Important to consider – what makes for a good story?

16 What do museums do with objects? Proof or example Proof or example Illustration Illustration Julia Childs kitchen: the exhibition features the actual kitchen, including the cabinets, appliances, cookbooks, kitchen table, and hundreds of utensils and gadgets. The exhibition gives visitors a peek into the working kitchen of one of the worlds best-known cooks, and explores how her influence as an author and host of several television series changed the way America cooks.

17 To make an argument To make an argument To create an atmosphere To create an atmosphere

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19 To attract attention To attract attention To illustrate To illustrate

20 To tell a story

21 As a teaching tool As a teaching tool As interactive device As interactive device

22 For research: For research: How it was made How it was made How it was used How it was used Examine craftmanship Examine craftmanship Ownership and provenence Ownership and provenence

23 Attempting transparency Open deaccession process – Indianapolis Art Museum Open deaccession process – Indianapolis Art MuseumIndianapolis Art MuseumIndianapolis Art Museum Communication with curators – U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Communication with curators – U.S. Holocaust Memorial MuseumU.S. Holocaust Memorial MuseumU.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Visible storage and behind-the-scene tours – Brooklyn Museum Visible storage and behind-the-scene tours – Brooklyn MuseumBrooklyn MuseumBrooklyn Museum

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25 Lunder Conservation Center

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27 Building community collections – Anacostia Museum; Massachusetts Memories Roadshow; NMAAHC Building community collections – Anacostia Museum; Massachusetts Memories Roadshow; NMAAHC

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30 Ethical concerns Who really owns? Can legal title be passed on? Can rights be conveyed? Who really owns? Can legal title be passed on? Can rights be conveyed? Does acquisition violate laws about cultural property, endangered species, etc? Does acquisition violate laws about cultural property, endangered species, etc? Are there donor restrictions that inhibit appropriate use? Are there donor restrictions that inhibit appropriate use?

31 Collecting challenges Whats worth saving? Whats worth saving? Who decides? Who decides? Collecting objects or collecting stories? Collecting objects or collecting stories? Practical concerns: Practical concerns: Can we afford it? Is object worthwhile? Can we afford it? Is object worthwhile? Consistent with collection goals? Consistent with collection goals? Can it be exhibited? Stored? Can it be exhibited? Stored? Useful for research or education? Authentic? Useful for research or education? Authentic? Will it be seen as a political or commercial endorsement? Will it be seen as a political or commercial endorsement?


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