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By Sharon Macdonald

What is going on in the back of closed doorways at museums? How are judgements approximately exhibitions made and who, or what, fairly makes them? Why are convinced gadgets and varieties of reveal selected while others are rejected, and what elements impact how museum exhibitions are produced and skilled? This publication solutions those looking questions by means of giving a privileged glance ‘behind the scenes’ on the technology Museum in London. via monitoring the background of a selected exhibition, Macdonald takes the reader into the realm of the museum curator and exhibits in shiny aspect how exhibitions are created and the way public tradition is produced. She finds why exhibitions don't consistently replicate their makers’ unique intentions and why viewers take domestic specific interpretations. past this ‘local’ context, besides the fact that, the booklet additionally presents wide and far-reaching insights into how nationwide and worldwide political shifts impact the construction of public wisdom via exhibitions.

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Extra info for Behind the Scenes at the Science Museum (Materializing Culture)

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42 The V&A was far from alone in its experimenting with exhibitions of popular culture: other museums did so too, or used techniques of popular cultural representation in their displays. In London, for example, the late 1980s saw the opening of the Museum of the Moving Image, a museum of television and film which catered to popular nostalgia in its inclusion of favourite children’s television characters, and the Design Museum, which exhibited not only new design innovations but also familiar everyday items referred to as ‘design classics’.

This was perhaps less the case in the nineteenth and earlytwentieth century when new museums, embodying the latest ideas, were constructed, and especially when science and liberal ideals could both be expressed in evolutionary narratives. Particularly for those working in existing and long-standing museum buildings, however, the architecture of earlier visions can prove an impediment to implementing their own, and objects can behave obdurately, as we shall see in some of the ethnography below. 24 Given the multifaceted and potentially conflictual nature of their task this is not surprising.

Not surprisingly, there were disagreements about what to do, and while some museum directors argued that the only way out of this predicament was to become more independent of government by generating a greater proportion of their own income, others saw this as a longer term road to ruin. In order to prompt national museums into taking greater charge of their own finances, the government required for the first time that the museums should draw up five-year corporate plans, setting out their objectives in relation to ‘strategic plans, ideas, and finance’.

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