What Is a Museum?

ebook Perspectives from National and International Museum Leaders

By The United States National Committee of the International Council of Museums

cover image of What Is a Museum?

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What makes a museum, a museum in the 21st century? This is a transformative moment in the history of museums. Traditionally, the museums have been defined by the functions of collecting, preserving, documenting, researching, exhibiting and in other ways, communicating and interpreting evidence of human culture and history for the benefit of everyone. But what is the future of museums in a fast-changing world of economic uncertainty, social disruption, health challenges and climate change? Can museums reflect the accountability and transparency under which they are expected to acquire and use their material, financial, social, and intellectual resources?

What Is a Museum? Perspectives from National and International Museum Leaders shares perspectives from dedicated professionals investigating how museums can meet their ethical, political, social, cultural, and environmental responsibilities in the years to come. In a series of essays, well-known leaders in the museum sector and related fields contribute to our understanding of the current and future challenges facing museums around the world. ICOM-US Co-Chair and Secretary of the Smithsonian, Lonnie G. Bunch III, summarizes the issues and provides guidance for the future of museums.

Questions explored include:

  • What lessons have we learned from the needs of the communities we claim to serve and how can we better adapt to shift our priorities in a faster and more efficient way?
  • How can museums not only chronicle the past, but depict the present and become touchstones for the future of their communities?
  • In a world aimed towards political correctness, how do we address collections resulting from power and colonization?
  • This book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in why museums matter today, what their future holds, and how to change them

    What Is a Museum?