What goes on behind closed doors at museums? How are decisions about exhibitions made and who, or what, really makes them? Why are certain objects and styles of display chosen whilst others are rejected, and what factors influence how museum exhibitions are produced and experienced? This book answers these searching questions by giving a privileged look behind the scenes at the Science Museum in London. By tracking the history of a particular exhibition, Macdonald takes the reader into the world of the museum curator and shows in vivid detail how exhibitions are created and how public culture is produced. She reveals why exhibitions do not always reflect their makers original intentions and why visitors take home particular interpretations. Beyond this local context, however, the book also provides broad and far-reaching insights into how national and global political shifts influence the creation of public knowledge through exhibitions.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
Number of pages: 308
Weight: 410 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 16 mm
'Macdonald's study makes an important contribution to the literature because it brings the communication circuit full circle ... this book is a welcome addition to the field, and a fascinating window into the rarely seen institutional workings of museums.'Science Education'Behind the Scenes at the Science Museum is a powerful ethnographic analysis of a major science exhibition that interrogates museum practices and applies the tools of social anthropology and organizational analysis to understanding the choices and constraints involved in the making of exhibits. Despite many calls for ethnographies of museums and cultural displays, Macdonald is among the very first to show how the complex process of exhibit making is truly contested terrain. Her account of audience response is among the most sophisticated available.'Ivan Karp , Emory UniversityStudies of culture and media have often stressed the gap between authorial intentions and audience experiences, but have rarely given this