Extreme Collecting: Challenging Practices for 21st Century Museums

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Graeme Were, Jonathan C. H. King
Berghahn Books, 2012 - Art - 238 pages
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By exploring the processes of collecting, which challenge the bounds of normally acceptable practice, this book debates the practice of collecting 'difficult' objects, from a historical and contemporary perspective; and discusses the acquisition of objects related to war and genocide, and those purchased from the internet, as well as considering human remains, mass produced objects and illicitly traded antiquities. The aim is to apply a critical approach to the rigidity of museums in maintaining essentially nineteenth-century ideas of collecting; and to move towards identifying priorities for collection policies in museums, which are inclusive of acquiring 'difficult' objects. Much of the book engages with the question of the limits to the practice of collecting as a means to think through the implementation of new strategies.


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Extreme Collecting Dealing with Difficult Objects
Part I Difficult Objects
1 The Material Culture of Persecution
2 Lyricism and Offence in Egyptian Archaeology Collections
3 Contested Human Remains
4 Extreme or Commonplace
5 Unfit for Society?
Part II Mass Produced
8 Awkward Objects
9 Great Expectations and Modest Transactions
Part III Extreme Matters
10 Extremes of Collecting at the Imperial War Museum 19172009
11 Plastics Why Not?
12 Time Capsules as Extreme Collecting
13 Canning Cans a Brand New Way of Looking at History
Notes on Contributors

6 Knowing the New
7 The Global Scope of Extreme Collecting

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About the author (2012)

Graeme Were is the director of the Museum Studies postgraduate programme at the University of Queensland. His current research focuses on material culture and ethnographic museums; digital heritage and source community engagement; and, ethnomathematics in the Pacific. His recent publications include Lines that Connect: Rethinking Pattern and Mind in the Pacific (University of Hawai'i Press, 2010), and Pacific Pattern,with S. Küchler (Thames & Hudson, 2005). He is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute and an editor of the Journal of Material Culture.

Jonathan C.H. King writes about the art and material culture of Native North America, and is interested in wider issues of museum ethnography, cultural policy and the visual arts, and the collection of contemporary art, photography, and ephemera. He became research Keeper of Anthropology at the British Museum, in 2010. His recent publications include: Three Centuries of Woodlands Art. A Collection of Essays, ( European Review of Native American Studies, 2007), ed. with C.F. Feest, Provenance. Twelve Collectors of Ethnographic Art in England 1760-1990, with H. Waterfield, (Somogy, 2006) and Arctic Clothing, ed. with B. Pauksztat and R. Storrie, (British Museum Press, 2005).

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