Beyond the Turnstile: Making the Case for Museums and Sustainable Values

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Beyond the Turnstile argues that museums are indispensable to civil society, especially in an era in which museums often are reduced to cultural businesses or "edu-tainment" sites. Is it inevitable that a museum's success will be measured solely by how many people come through the door and how much money they spend? The eminent contributors to this volume provide museum leaders with a different set of criteria for evaluating the success of their museums, proposing a set of sustainable values that can help museums preserve themselves and advance their social mission in hard times—and help them thrive when times improve. While attendance and money will continue to count and be counted in our museums, numbers alone can never drive sustainable success. Only the unique dynamic identity that a museum can claim will do that.

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Editorial Reviews

Visitor Studies
This is one of the few efforts by museum professionals that attempts to address the emerging challenge of sustainability with which societies around the world are grappling. It raises many interesting questions and offers food for thought and discussion across the museum field.
Here is an informative and thought-provoking book about that elusive "why" of museums. What is, after all, the sustainable value of our institutions? Have we placed too much emphasis on the economic measures of success and too little on how museums impact the lives of our visitors and communities?....There is a refreshing geographical and experiential diversity among the essayists, with Mexico being especially well represented, along with Iraq, Turkey, Venezuela, New Zealand, and several other countries.
South African Archaeological Bulletin
We have a museums crisis on our hands and this should stimulate museum and heritage professionals, as well as community activists to initiate a public debate on this matter.
Steven D. Lavine
The timing could hardly be better for this guide to values that can sustain museums over time. Today, under economic pressures, museums are tempted to resort to stopgap strategies - in relation to collections, exhibitions, and diverse publics - that may keep the doors open but often threaten long-term institutional credibility. Selma Holo, Mari-Tere Alvarez, and the distinguished colleagues they have gathered in Beyond the Turnstile offer those professionally involved with museums the opportunity to return to core principles. Equally importantly, they provide museum visitors and patrons guidelines about what they have a right to expect, even in difficult circumstances.
John L. Gray
Beyond the Turnstile does more than make the case that museums are essential for the way we need to live; it provides both clarity and multiple perspectives to help us articulate and implement the values that enrich the lives of our communities.
Richard Koshalek
Selma Holo and Mari-Tere Alvarez's book is an urgently important and compelling statement from leading authorities on museums today. More than anything I've read lately, Holo makes the case for transforming the traditional museum into a vital, creative, and groundbreaking entity that is truly relevant to the creative individual, the museum professional, contemporary society, and the issues of our time. This is absolutely must-reading for anyone in the museum field.
April 2010 CHOICE
Co-editor Holo's introduction is subtitled "A Crisis Is a Terrible Thing to Waste"; this reflects the theme of the book in general. It incorporates creative ideas and suggestions from a wide range of sources. . . . This is a strong collection, unique in its focus and perspective. . . . Recommended.
April 2010 Museum
The last few decades saw the rise of the business model for museums, with greater accountability, financial skill, and fundraising ability on demand for directors and many others in the professions. Selma Holo argues in her introduction to Beyond the Turnstile that this shift in focus was valuable, creating stronger and more transparent institutions. Yet she believes museums must now move beyond number crunching and recognize that they need, 'first and foremost, to represent unique and sustainable values.' The book outlines 10 such principles, including public trust, relevance, globalization, and communication; each discussion is bolstered by multiple essay contributions. Only in fulfilling those values, Holo argues, can museums 'articulate and claim their indispensability to society and its continuing betterment.'
Warren Bennis
Although I normally hesitate to use the word 'masterpiece,' especially about the cultural icon of icons, the contemporary museum, in this case the word is appropriate for three big reasons. First, this book defines the contemporary state of museums and foretells what changes are necessary for a sustainable future. The second may come as a surprise, perhaps even to the editors; the book is not only about museums but offers lessons for all knowledge- and performance-based institutions: universities, symphony orchestras, theater companies, and many others. Finally, while every stakeholder of museums should make this book required reading, I believe all educated people will benefit from this compilation of indispensable essays by many of the world's most influential thinkers.
Summer 2010 History News
Holo and Alvarez give a kaleidoscopic view of how we approach success for museums by casting nets far and wide to present our institutions in a holistic manner….Beyond the Turnstile is a timely publication that lessens the fear of trying new things with this collection of innovative museum practices. Movement towards a place off vulnerability is encouraged to propel the museum forward and reaffirm the critical role that they serve in our society.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780759112216
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 12/16/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Selma Holo is director of the Fisher Museum of Art and the International Museum Institute at the University of Southern California. Mari-Tere Alvarez is project specialist in the Department of Education at the J. Paul Getty Museum and serves as associate director of the International Museum Institute.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Preface: International Museum Institute: Origin and Cause Chapter 2 Introduction Part 3 Public Trust Chapter 4 Museum Values Chapter 5 The Credibility of Museums Chapter 6 Transmitting the Legacy Chapter 7 Natural History Museums as Sentinel Observatories of Life on Earth: A Public Trust Chapter 8 Including as Aspiration to Cultural Justice in a Museum's Value System Part 9 The Primacy of Our Collections Chapter 10 It's All About the Permanent Collection Chapter 11 Bringing our Permanent Collections to Life Chapter 12 What Are We Showing in Our Museums? Chapter 13 From the perspective of Turkey... Part 14 Relevance Chapter 15 The Revitalization of the Urban Environment: A Measure of the Museum's Social Value Chapter 16 Ethnic-Specific Museums: Why they Matter and How They Make a Difference Chapter 17 What is the relevance of museums? Can you imagine a world without them? Chapter 18 Will Museums Survive? Part 19 Inclusion Chapter 20 Remembering Abolition: Britain and the Slave Trade, 1807-2007 Chapter 21 Including Contemporary Art at the Musée du Quai Branly: A Way of Coming to Terms with the Colonial Past à la Française? Chapter 22 The Huntington's Decisions about Audience and Service: How and Where Could a Children's Garden Be Brought Into Play? Chapter 23 Museums (A Rapid View of Guided Tours): The Ruins of the Future Should Be in Shop Windows Chapter 24 Grappling with Limits: Museums and Inclusion Part 25 Globalization: Finding and Claiming Your Niche Chapter 26 Defending the Universal [Encyclopedic] Museum Chapter 27 Professional Museum Training Programs at the National Gallery of Art: From the Shores of the Potomac to a World View Chapter 28 A Work in Progress: Cultural District, Abu Dhabi Chapter 29 Two Museums, Two Visions of Mexican Artes Populares in the Era of Globalization Part 30 Creativity and Experimentation Chapter 31 In Service to Artists… Chapter 32 Museums and the Creativity Chapter 33 Art and Science, Nature and Art in a Natural History Museum Chapter 34 Creativity and Experimentation in the World of Archaeology Part 35 New Alliances: Opportunities Chapter 36 Setting Precedent Chapter 37 Alliances, New and Renewed Chapter 38 The Crossing of Art and Science: Expanding the Field Chapter 39 Museums and Alliances/Allies Chapter 40 New Alliances/New Philanthropies: The Alfredo Harp Foundation Part 41 Authentic Experience Chapter 42 When I Was a Youngster Chapter 43 Authentic Experiences Chapter 44 Mezcal for the Earth Chapter 45 The 'Total' Museum, a Tool for Social Change Chapter 46 Guernica Gernikara Part 47 Generation and Dissemination of Knowledge Chapter 48 Minds in Museums - Knowledge Evolving Chapter 49 Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul and the Generation and Diffusion of Knowledge Chapter 50 Art in the Making: Another View of Art History Chapter 51 Interdisciplinary Work and Knowledge Management: A Dynamics for the Contemporary Museum Part 52 Communication Chapter 53 Reality Check Chapter 54 Communication: One Mission, One Blog Chapter 55 The Polished Edge Chapter 56 Texts And Contexts In Museology Chapter 57 Communicating Through Design and Display: The New American Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Chapter 58 Conclusion: Museumspace

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