Defining Memory: Local Museums and the Construction of History in America's Changing Communities / Edition 1

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Defining Memory uses case studies of exhibits from around the country to examine how local museums, defined as museums whose collections are local in scope or whose audiences are primarily local, have both shaped and been shaped by evolving community values and sense of history. Levin and her contributors argue that these small institutions play a key role in defining America's self-identity and should be studied as seriously as more national institutions like the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Editorial Reviews

Rosa Cabrera
Defining Memory is an important and long-overdue piece of work that not only highlights the significant influence of local museums in their communities but also discloses them as lenses for understanding our greater contemporary American community. Because there has been no sustained support for local museums in the United States, their growth and even survival continues to be uncertain. It is through the work of authors like those in this book that local museums have a chance to shine as important cultural and educational assets for all citizens.
David Kyvig
This collection of essays edited by Amy Levin illuminates the rich diversity of America's lesser-known local museums. Levin and her colleagues provide rich descriptions of a remarkable diversity of institutions. . . . Their selections reflect the wide variety of museums spread across the land and ranging from professionally to haphazardly administered, from well to precariously supported, and from broadly representative to highly unusual in content. More important, the authors raise significant questions about the functions of museums and the way in which they should be organized, employed, and explained. . . . Levin and company force readers to think about what to expect from museums, what to demand, what to enjoy, and what might be best not to encounter. . . . Anyone interested in a nearby past will find themselves constantly intrigued, frequently amused, occasionally astonished, repeatedly enlightened, and, above all, amply rewarded.
Patricia Mooney-Melvin
Anyone interested in museums or historical societies will find something of interest here.
Carol Kammen
Some people will find comfort in these pages, seeing similar situations; others will be surprised at the sorts of problems other museums face; while still others will think that their own situation is not so bad after all. Within these pages, everyone will encounter museum directors and educators attempting to keep up with the field and represent the past in as careful a manner as possible. This is a fine contribution to the field.
Patterson B. Williams
This book captures the cacophonous bouquet(to mix metaphors) that are our local museums. How often have each of us been captivated by such a museum! The thoughtful insights this book provides certainly expanded my sense of what the museum universe is and should be. Hooray for cacophony as opposed to the sedate murmurs of proper museums.
Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains, Winter 2007 - Rebecca Conrad
The contributors to Defining Memory combine intriguing subject matter with reflective commentary to provide highly readable, stimulating essays that will be equally useful in the classroom, the staff conference room, and the boardroom.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Amy K. Levin is director of women's studies and a professor of English at Northern Illinois University, where she is also a member of the faculty of the museum studies graduate certificate program.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Foreword   David E. Kyvig     1
Frameworks     7
Why Local Museums Matter   Amy K. Levin     9
Local History, "Old Things to Look At," and a Sculptor's Vision: Exploring Local Museums through Curriculum Theory   Elizabeth Vallance     27
The Rebirth of a Nation     43
Public History, Private Memory: Notes from the Ethnography of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, U.S.A   Eric Gable   Richard Handler     47
The House of the Seven Gables: A House Museum's Adaptation to Changing Societal Expectations since 1910   Tami Christopher     63
Louisiana's Old State Capitol Museum: Castle on the Mississippi   J. Daniel d'Oney     77
Nostalgia as Epistemology     93
The Small Town We Never Were: Old Cowtown Museum Faces an Urban Past   Jay Price     97
"The Dream Then and Now": Democratic Nostalgia and the Living Museum at Arthurdale, West Virginia   Stuart Patterson     109
History Lessons: Selling the John Dillinger Museum   Heather R. Perry     127
Museums at Risk: Changing Publics     143
The Politics of Prehistory: Conflict and Resolution at Dickson Mounds Museum   Donna Langford     147
"Such isOur Heritage": Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museums   Jessie L. Embry   Mauri Liljenquist Nelson     161
"A Repository for Bottled Monsters and Medical Curiosities": The Evolution of the Army Medical Museum   Michael G. Rhode   James T. H. Connor     177
Challenging the Major Museum     197
Objects of Dis/Order: Articulating Curiosities and Engaging People at the Freakatorium   Lucian Gomoll     201
Cities, Museums, and City Museums   Eric Sandweiss     217
No Business Like Show Business     231
Business as Usual: Can Museums Be Bought?   Amy K. Levin     235
Conclusion: Museums and the American Imagination   Amy K. Levin     253
Selected Bibliography     265
Index     269
About the Contributors     285
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  • Posted July 8, 2014

    Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!

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