The New Town Square: Museums and Communities in Transition / Edition 1

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Overview

In this lyrical volume Robert R. Archibald explores a growing crisis of modern America: the dissolution of place that leads to a dangerous rupture of community. Community—born historically within the collective space of the town square where citizens come together to share stories and make meaning of their common histories—is dissipating as Americans are increasingly isolated from that shared space and are being submerged into an individualistic consumer monoculture with disregard for the common good. This volume examines how public history museums and historians can help restore community by offering a source of identity for people and their places, becoming a wellspring of community and an incubator of democracy, a consciousness of connection with a responsibility to those in our past and future. The New Town Square offers its readers a space to understand and celebrate the shared space of community, and is a vital resource for public historians and those interested in restoring the meaning of community.
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Editorial Reviews

Indiana Magazine History
the book offers informative and entertaining vignettes that convey at once the author's personality and a sense of of the distinctiveness of the sites he has inhabited, turning the book itself into a crossroads of America, a new and exciting town square.
Edward T. Linenthal
Bob Archibald's book is beautifully and passionately written. His is a life profoundly rooted in place: the stark beauty of Michigan's upper peninsula, the evocative landscape of the southwest, the open skies of Montana, and the urban landscape of St. Louis. He discovers stories everywhere: in graveyards, old homes, open air markets, old bridges, an African-American hospital, the death mask of an infant, and an Alaskan train ride. Archibald believes that public history can help repair our connections with place and revitalize communities. In a dark time, his is a welcome voice.
Terry Davis
Bob Archibald has the ability to put into words the feelings, inclinations, fears, and joys about community that so many of us share but cannot express. In The New Town Square his examples of those expressions make me actually 'see' the issues from an entirely different perspective.
History: Reviews Of New Books
This is an elegantly written book with a clear theme. American who have grown up in the suburbs may reject Archibald's characterization of their neighborhoods as identical and stifling places that lack a sense of community. However, Archibald raises important points about the evolving nature of American society and about the place of history amid rapid change, and readers will benefit from this thought-provoking volume.
Peter H. Raven
In this compassionate masterpiece of reflection and clear writing, Bob Archibald offers thoughtful insights into the past, our sense of place and identification, the ways in which we think about our environment and about wilderness, as ways to deal well with the present and the future. His book is an inspiration, a call to recognize that there is more to civilization than individual consumption, and an invitation to join in rebuilding the values on which our lives are ultimately based, in order to live dignified lives worthy of the privileges we enjoy. It must be a source of inspiration to any thoughtful person.
Crm: The Journal Of Heritage Stewardship
In many ways, these essays constitute a call to arms for public historians. Archibald seeks to embolden his professional colleagues in the power and importance of what they do, and The New Town Square is a work likely to be of considerable interest and utility to cultural resource managers. For historic preservationists, museum curators, re-enactors, public programmers, park rangers, and interpreters, it offers a model for examining the impact of the environment on how communities came to define themselves. . . These essays will benefit anyone seeking to write about a favorite locale, or hoping to develop exhibitions or programs that convey the virtues of a particular site.
March 2008 Indiana Magazine History
the book offers informative and entertaining vignettes that convey at once the author's personality and a sense of of the distinctiveness of the sites he has inhabited, turning the book itself into a crossroads of America, a new and exciting town square.
History: Reviews Of New Books
This is an elegantly written book with a clear theme. American who have grown up in the suburbs may reject Archibald's characterization of their neighborhoods as identical and stifling places that lack a sense of community. However, Archibald raises important points about the evolving nature of American society and about the place of history amid rapid change, and readers will benefit from this thought-provoking volume.
Oregon Historical Quarterly
This is a good book, most of all, because it relates one man's varied involvements in his community and profession as object lessons for peers and career aspirants. For Archibald, museums and historical agencies are not places in which historians and curators are to sequester themselves—as was once accepted and expected—like monks in a monastery. Rather, they must be at the center of their communities, as members of a profession who both hold and tell the stories that articulate and sustain their fellow citizens' identity. It is an awesome responsibility, for which Archibald has been a most outspoken, ardent, and eloquent advocate. . . The concluding chapter, "Under Construction," ought to be required reading for every historical society and museum staff and board member in the country.
CRM: The Journal Of Heritage Stewardship
In many ways, these essays constitute a call to arms for public historians. Archibald seeks to embolden his professional colleagues in the power and importance of what they do, and The New Town Square is a work likely to be of considerable interest and utility to cultural resource managers. For historic preservationists, museum curators, re-enactors, public programmers, park rangers, and interpreters, it offers a model for examining the impact of the environment on how communities came to define themselves. . . These essays will benefit anyone seeking to write about a favorite locale, or hoping to develop exhibitions or programs that convey the virtues of a particular site.
Museums Australia Magazine
The New Town Square provides another timely reminder of the necessity of collaboration between community groups.
Muse
The essays are nicely packaged and, when read individually, thought-provoking. The New Town Square provides the reader with insightful questions to consider, and encourages the contemplation of one's own place, and the rold of museums and historic preservation in community.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Since 1988 Robert R. Archibald has been president and CEO of the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis, Missouri. An active member of many professional and community organizations and author of A Place to Remember: Using History to Build Community (AltaMira 1999), he writes and speaks on numerous topics from history and historical practice to community building and environmental responsibility.
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Table of Contents

1 Acknowledgments 2 Introduction: The Past as Context 3 Chapter 1: Creating a Place 4 Chapter 2: The Power of Place 5 Chapter 3: Sharing the Story 6 Chapter 4: Making Connections 7 Chapter 5: Contemplating Change 8 Chapter 6: The Call of Wildness 9 Chapter 7: Sustaining the Future 10 Chapter 8: Touring a Culture 11 Chapter 9: A Wonderful Place 12 Chapter 10: Under Construction 13 Index 14 About the Author
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