Museum Frictions

Public Cultures/Global Transformations

Museum Frictions

Book Pages: 632 Illustrations: 70 b&w photos, 2 maps Published: December 2006

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Cultural Studies

Museum Frictions is the third volume in a bestselling series on culture, society, and museums. The first two volumes in the series, Exhibiting Cultures and Museums and Communities, have become defining books for those interested in the politics of museum display and heritage sites. Another classic in the making, Museum Frictions is a lavishly illustrated examination of the significant and varied effects of the increasingly globalized world on contemporary museum, heritage, and exhibition practice. The contributors—scholars, artists, and curators—present case studies drawn from Africa, Australia, North and South America, Europe, and Asia. Together they offer a multifaceted analysis of the complex roles that national and community museums, museums of art and history, monuments, heritage sites, and theme parks play in creating public cultures.

Whether contrasting the transformation of Africa’s oldest museum, the South Africa Museum, with one of its newest, the Lwandle Migrant Labor Museum; offering an interpretation of the audio guide at the Guggenheim Bilbao; reflecting on the relative paucity of art museums in Peru and Cambodia; considering representations of slavery in the United States and Ghana; or meditating on the ramifications of an exhibition of Australian aboriginal art at the Asia Society in New York City, the contributors highlight the frictions, contradictions, and collaborations emerging in museums and heritage sites around the world. The volume opens with an extensive introductory essay by Ivan Karp and Corinne A. Kratz, leading scholars in museum and heritage studies.

Contributors. Tony Bennett, David Bunn, Gustavo Buntinx, Cuauhtémoc Camarena, Andrea Fraser, Martin Hall, Ivan Karp, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Corinne A. Kratz, Christine Mullen Kreamer, Joseph Masco, Teresa Morales, Howard Morphy, Ingrid Muan, Fred Myers, Ciraj Rassool, Vicente Razo, Fath Davis Ruffins, Lynn Szwaja, Krista A. Thompson, Leslie Witz, Tomás Ybarra-Frausto


Museum Frictions challenges traditional thinking and will spark new debates and conversations that will undoubtedly add to a growing literature on the role of museums in a postmodern world. The geographically and culturally diverse case studies provide insights into museum interpretation that will be of interest to historians and museum professionals working in a wide range of public cultural venues. They also provide an important snapshot of museums and historical organizations in the context of the global changes affecting museums worldwide.” — Barbara Franco, Journal of American History

Museum Frictions is a good introduction for students and researchers in anthropology, cultural and museum studies to understand globalizing museum practices and exhibition design.” — Christos Karagiannidis, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Museum Frictions is certainly a worthy final volume in a fine series of books which have transformed Museum and Heritage Studies in the last 15 years. The essays consider what happens when ‘museum-based processes and globalising processes comes together,’ drawing on a diverse group of writers across a wide range of subjects.” — Conal McCarthy, Museum and Society

Museum Frictions offers a sense of ongoing negotiations in the world of exhibitions. . . . Cultural critics and practitioners involved in critical museology may find optimism unfamiliar, but this book makes the case that the museum world is enabling constructive debates and visual conversations across cultures, in ways that challenge dominant and inherited power relations.” — Shelley Ruth Butler, Museum Anthropology Review

Museum Frictions provides an impressive array of essays concerned primarily with how global processes and local museum realities inform one another. The three essays on South Africa are particularly strong, each presenting a well-argued thesis that speaks to the relevance of a South African case study as well as more general issues surrounding commemoration.” — Sara G. Byala, Journal of Southern African Studies

Museum Frictions refreshingly reminds us that museums can be influenced by the mistaken belief that global changes in behaviour can be exacted through the intellectual works of academics striving to alter consciousness. Although these essays have emerged from research and experts in the field, they focus on the translation from theory into practice. Case studies make the work accessible, and creative approaches provoke our thinking. . . .” — Maree Boyce, M/C Reviews

Museum Frictions sets the agenda for the conjuncture of critical theory and practice in the museum world and arts and heritage industries as they continue to grapple with the effects of globalization.” — Jonathan Zilberg, Leonardo Reviews

“[A] significant addition to the literature. . . . I recommend this book wholeheartedly. In many ways, this compendium is about hope, for new global forms of social interaction influence and are influenced by the changing nature of museums.” — Jonathan Yorba, Museum News

“For every case study exemplified in this comprehensive, must-have reference book for museum studies, it does not take much difficulty to apply similar analyses to our own terrain to realise how immense is the field that we are engaged in. I thoroughly recommend the considerable scope, impeccable research and sheer relevance of Museum Frictions to potential readers.” — Anne Kirker, Museums Australia

“Its variety of viewpoints—as well as specific references to the role of these institutions in community tourism as destinations and as products for international tourist markets—could make this volume a useful resource for studies in cultural and heritage tourism. The analysis of the issue of authenticity will be useful for those in the heritage field studying the role of authenticity in the touristic experience. As a text, this hefty volume will thus be of use to senior undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in both museum and cultural-heritage studies.” — Lee Jolliffe, Annals of Tourism Research

“Like philosophies of life, political governments, cultures, museum treasure belongs to the people. This book further develops the attitude started in the earlier volumes, and for that purpose needs to be approved and appreciated.” — Ray B. Browne, Journal of American Culture

“The importance and usefulness of this volume for historians of the United States, for public historians, and for museum professionals should be obvious. It highlights the international interconnectedness of people and ideas. It suggests and invites new comparative studies of collective memory (and social amnesia). It illuminates the burgeoning phenomenon of heritage tourism because the ‘disinherited’ are now enjoying their moment in the sun alongside the elites that have traditionally dominated the content of museums and commemorative sites. . . . Museum Frictions is a well-conceived, highly intelligent, and provocative work.” — Michael Kammen, Reviews in American History

Museum Frictions will have a significant impact not only on museum scholarship, but also on researchers exploring public institutions and community politics more generally. In particular, while existing literature has commonly glossed over the challenges faced by community museums, viewing them merely as vehicles for empowerment, this book tackles head-on their struggles in finding stability within the changeable politics of both their local and global arenas. In opening up these provocative areas to debate, this book is sure to strengthen and enhance our understanding of relationships between regional and international players in the museum world and thus, the transnational nature of problems of representation. It also provides a practical guide for museum professionals, potentially developing new ideologies and procedures that may help minimize future museum frictions.” — Gwyneira Isaac, African Arts

Museum Frictions is a landmark publication which decenters the Western-centric bias of the existing literature. It shifts critical museology into a new register by challenging readers to think about the multiple ways that the globalization of a Western institution is transforming not only the dynamics of social interaction around the world but also the institutional nature of the museum itself.” — Ruth B. Phillips, coeditor of Sensible Objects: Colonialism, Museums, and Material Culture

Museum Frictions is not just a worthy successor to the preceding volumes Exhibiting Cultures and Museums and Communities, but a major leap forward. In the face of dramatic changes in the museum world during the past fifteen years, the last two volumes still remain a major platform for framing debate. I am confident that Museum Frictions will provide a similar service for the next fifteen.” — Doran H. Ross, Director Emeritus of the Fowler Museum at UCLA

“Just as Exhibiting Cultures and Museums and Communities set the agenda for museum debate over the last decade, Museum Frictions sets the agenda for the next. This is a wonderful book that must be read by anybody with an interest in museums, their transformations, dilemmas, challenges, politics, and futures.” — Sharon Macdonald, editor of A Companion to Museum Studies

“This marvelous and broad-ranging compendium by an eminent group of scholars provides a thinking person’s guide to contemporary museum work. It tackles the philosophical issues curators, directors, and professionals face in the art of cultural representation. How do you get the world’s diverse people to talk to each other in meaningful and significant ways? This book provides the intellectual tools for doing so, dealing cogently and adeptly with the complexity of globalization, conflicting perspectives, and the noise proffered by popular media. For a long book with large themes, it reads amazingly well.” — Richard Kurin, Director of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Ivan Karp is National Endowment for the Humanities Professor and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship at Emory University. He has coedited numerous books, including Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture and Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display.

Corinne A. Kratz is Professor of Anthropology and African Studies and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship at Emory University. She is the author of The Ones That Are Wanted: Communication and the Politics of Representation in a Photographic Exhibition.

Lynn Szwaja is Program Director for Theology at the Henry Luce Foundation.

Tomás Ybarra-Frausto was, until retirement in 2005, Associate Director for Creativity and Culture at the Rockefeller Foundation. In 1998, he was awarded the Joseph Henry Medal for “exemplary contributions to the Smithsonian Institution.”

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Lynn Szwaja and Tomás Ybarra-Frausto xi

Preface: Museum Frictions: A Project History / Ivan Karp and Corinne A. Kratz xv

Introduction: Museum Frictions: Public Cultures/Global Transformations / Corinne A. Kratz and Ivan Karp 1

Part 1. Exhibitionary Complexes

Exhibitionary Complexes / Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 35

Exhibition, Difference, and the Logic of Culture / Tony Bennett 46

The Reappearance of the Authentic / Martin Hall 70

Document: 5:29:24 AM / Joseph Masco 102

Transforming Museums on Postapartheid Tourist Routes / Leslie Witz 107

Isn't This a Wonderful Place? (A Tour of a Tour of the Guggenheim Bilbao) / Andrea Fraser 135

World Heritage and Cultural Economics / Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett 161

Document: The U.S. Department of Retro, The Onion 203

Part 2. Tactical Museologies

Tactical Museologies / Gustavo Buntinx and Ivan Karp 207

Communities of Sense/Communities of Sentiment: Globalization and the Museum Void in an Extreme Periphery / Gustavo Buntinx 219

Document: Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums 247

Document: Art Museums and the International Exchange of Cultural Artifacts, Association of Art Museum Directors 250

Document: Museo Salinas: A Proactive Space Within the Legal Frame, Some Words from the Director, Vicente Razo 253

Musings on Museums from Phnom Penh / Ingrid Muan 257

Community Museums, Memory Politics, and Social Transformation in South Africa: Histories, Possibilities, and Limits / Ciraj Rassool 286

Community Museums and Global Connections: The Union of Community Museums in Oaxaca / Cuauhtémoc Camarena and Teresa Morales 322

Part 3. Remapping the Museum

Remapping the Museum / Corinne A. Kratz and Ciraj Rassool 347

The Museum Outdoors: Heritage, Cattle, and Permeable Borders in the Southwestern Kruger National Park / David Bunn 357

Document: Baghdad Lions to Be Relocated to South Africa 392

Revisiting the Old Plantation: Reparations, Reconciliation, and Museumizing American Slavery / Fath Davis Ruffins 394

Shared Heritage, Contested Terrain: Cultural Negotiation and Ghana's Cape Coast Castle Museum Exhibition "Crossroads of People, Crossroads of Trade" / Christine Mullen Kreamer 435

Sites of Persuasion: Yingapungapu at the National Museum of Australia / Howard Morphy 469

Document: Destroying While Preserving Junkanoo: The Junkanoo Museum in the Bahamas / Krista A. Thompson 500

The Complicity of Cultural Production: The Contingencies of Performance in Globalizing Museum Practices / Fred Myers 504

Bibliography 537

Contributors 577

Index 583
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3894-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3878-9
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