Making museums matter

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Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002 - Business & Economics - 273 pages
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Stephen E. Weil has long been considered one of the museum community's most insightful (and frequently wittiest) commentators. In this volume of twenty-nine recent essays, his overarching concern is that museums be able to "earn their keep" -- that they make themselves matter -- in an environment of potentially shrinking resources.

Museums matter, according to Weil, when their staff's traditional object-related skills are directed towards enriching both the individual lives and the general well-being of the communities they serve. What makes museums so special, he says, is the varied ways in which they may choose to perform that service. Museums have the potential to kindle individual ambition, to strengthen community ties, to stimulate inquiry, to impart knowledge, to provide aesthetic experiences, and ever so much more.

Also included in this collection are reflections on the special qualities of art museums, an investigation into the relationship of current copyright law to the visual arts, a detailed consideration of how the museums and legal system of the United States have coped with the problem of Nazi-era art, and a series of delightfully provocative training exercises for those anticipating entry into the museum field. The publication of these essays in one volume ensures that even those previously published in highly specialized journals will get the wide exposure they surely deserve.

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About the author (2002)

Weil, following a 40 year career as an attorney and museum executive, he now serves as the Scholar Emeritus in the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Education and Museum Studies.

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