During the last half of the nineteenth century, many of the country's most celebrated museums were built. In this original and daring study, Steven Conn argues that Americans, endowed with the belief that knowledge resided in objects themselves, built these institutions with the confidence that they could collect, organize, and display the sum of the world's knowledge. Conn discovers how museums gave definition to different bodies of knowledge and how these various museums helped to shape America's intellectual history.
Written with wit and grace, Steven Conn's ambitious study traces the history of various museums and examines the relationships between these institutions and their patrons, their competitors such as universities, and the broader economy.
In this original study, Steven Conn argues that museums were sites for working out pressing intellectual concerns about how knowledge should be organized and presented to the public. . . . This book will take its place alongside the best work in the field and will command attention by scholars in American and cultural studies.
Morris J. Vogel
Steven Conn's ambitious study traces the history of various museums and examines the relationships between these institutions and their patrons, their competitors such as uniersities, and the broader economy. Conn describes the self-confidnce of museum builders who believed that objects could speak for themselves and presents the dominance of an object-based epistemology as a moment in which museums could be central to intellectual life.
— Author of Cultural Connections
1: Museums and the Late Victorian World
2: "Naked Eye Science": Museums and Natural History
3: Between Science and Art: Museums and the Development of Anthropology
4: The Philadelphia Commercial Museum: A Museum to Conquer the World
5: Objects and American History: The Museums of Henry Mercer and Henry Ford
6: From South Kensington to the Louvre: Art Museums and the Creation of Fine Art
7: 1926: Of Fairs, Museums, and History