Thursday, 14 January 2010

Museum Practice, Books and Collecting.

Below is a screenshot and link to a web page I found. Named reCollections, it is an independant, peer-reviewed online journal, which focuses on two main areas: museology and museum practice. It also touches on the history and interpretation of objects, plus social and enviromental history of material culture.

Most useful to me though was that the editors welcome contributions, relating to the the role of museums in society, museum practice, and the history, collection, interpretation and display of museum collections.
Based in Australia, the articles must only relate to Australia, or broadly relate to museums or material history.

There was an article that was very useful, and helped me appreciate and understand the idea of collecting and collectives. It speaks about a book called Museum, by Robyn Stacey and Ashley Hay. The article includes some quotes taken from the book, one was by Susan Sontag: 

' to collect is to rescue things, 
valuable things from neglect, from oblivion, 
or simply from the ignoble destiny of being in someone 
elses collection rather than ones own'. 

' Collecting makes a world'. 

The book is focused on the Macleay collection, which started off as a private collection. The text describes how like most similar collections, the vast majority of items are stored away from public view. I thought it was interesting that only two percent of the Macleay Museums' collection is on display at any one time so the immediate visual context of 98 percent of the collection is obscured. 
It also describes how publicising this 'hidden' collection becomes a high priority in a time of cultural accountability.

It goes on to talk about how the digital age, gives museums and collecting institutions a big oppertunities to expand their collections. 
Web works and books are a real and wonderful means of widening the impact of a particular collection. 
Books like this serve several purposes. They expose the hidden collection and it's meanings. Beautifully presented, as in this publication, they advertise and celebrate the richness of the collection. And in this form of publication, they re-present the collection, adding new meanings to the chosen items.

Other books about/of creations/collections:
- Stephen Jay Gould's - Finers, Keepers
- Eight Collectors and the intriguing Tasmanian Art Gallery publication Collection
All books produced about collections add value and creativity to the process of interpreting a collection. They present the collection in a specific light. 

To end I thought this was a well rounded and explained paragraph...

'By beginning and maintaining a collection, the collector–organiser ensures that a particular creativity suffuses the collection. It may pass through several hands, be added to or have items withdrawn, but a collection remains as a testament to the inquiry and intellect of those who work with it. By making it more accessible and, as in this case, by reinterpreting items, others ensure the continued life of the collection. In doing so they recognise the efforts of all who have worked with the collection since its inception'.

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