The International Handbooks of Museum Studies: Theory, Practice, Media, Transformations

In this blog I have been profiling my new book Museum Practice which is part of a series of four volumes that make up The International Handbooks of Museum Studies being published by Wiley Blackwell in July 2015. The general editors are Sharon Macdonald and Helen Rees Leahy.

The first volume is Museum Transformations edited by Annie E. Coombes and Ruth B. Phillips. This contains sections on: difficult histories; social agency and the museum; and museum experiments. There are 24 chapters by a range of contributors including: Mary Bouquet, Nicholas Thomas, Laura Peers, Miriam Clavir and Mieke Bal.

The next volume is Museum Media edited by Michelle Henning. This book is divided into four parts: the museum as medium; mediation and immersion; design and curation in the media age; and extending the museum.

Volume 3 is Museum Theory edited by Andrea Witcomb and Kylie Message who explore this topic as ‘an expanded field’ with a range of well known authors including Tony Bennett, Toby Miller, Sheila Watson, Howard Morphy, Laurajane Smith and many others.

Museum Practice Conal's cover

My own volume 4 Museum Practice considers the contemporary museum at work , and sets out to ground museum studies in current professional practice. The 25 chapters are organised into four sections: priorities, processes, resources and publics. In blogs over the last few months I have outlined the chapters in the first two sections, written by experienced professionals, consultants and academics, which have considered vision and mission, governance, policy, ethics, value, audience, economics, marketing and branding, and several chapters dealing with aspects of collections: collection development, care and management, planning, and CMS.

In the coming weeks I showcase the next section in which the focus is the internal processes of various kinds within museums which develop and deliver the resources discussed above in the form of outputs or products to the public considered in the last part of the book. A central aspect is exhibition practice, including development and production, design and display. Another key part of museum work is curatorial theory and practice, seen here as connected to but not limited by collections and exhibitions, in which curators acquire, select, arrange, research, present and interpret things for people to look at. This section also considers a process within museum practice—repatriation and restitution—which is assuming increasing importance, and raising questions about the very nature of the museum, the legality of its collections and displays, and relationships with source communities.

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About mccartco

Conal McCarthy has published widely on the historical and contemporary Māori engagement with museums, including the books Exhibiting Māori: A history of colonial cultures of display (2007) and Museums and Māori: Heritage professionals, indigenous collections, current practice (2011). His new book is Museum practice (2015) in the series International Handbooks of Museum Studies. This edited collection includes chapters on many aspects of current professional work from audience, leadership and policy to collections, exhibitions and conservation. His next book co-authored with Bronwyn Labrum of Massey University will explore history of/in museums.
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