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By Ian Jones, Robert R. Macdonald, Darryl McIntyre, Marie Louise Bourbeau, Caroline Butler-Bowden, Szu-yun Chang, Chi-jung Chu, Anja Dauschek, Geoffrey Edwards, Max Hebditch, Susan Hunt, Jack Lohman, Marlen Mouliou, Gulchachak Rakhimzyanovna Nazipova, Chet O

During this booklet, specialists within the box discover the _new_ urban museum, reading the position of the town museum in city improvement, the issues posed in facing modern background, and the influence of intangible background at the paintings of urban museums.

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The further notion of focusing the history museum’s mission strictly upon a city, rather than on a broader political or geographic terrain, is more recent still. 10 The developers of American city museums eventually traced their inspiration, in part, to these two European models. But the American museum also enjoyed a close tie to its longer-lived domestic cousin, the state or local historical society. Most often located in major cities, a number of historical societies turned their attention from national or state-specific issues to those of the urban milieu at precisely the time that government officials, social scientists, and architects began conceiving of the city as a meaningful (and problematic) unit of American society.

The best urban planning is done as a democratic process in which informed members of the public play a role. Museums are, by nature, democratic institutions—as much as if not more than other institutions—and our mission is to involve the public in our programs and support mechanisms. Technical as it is, planning can be seen as difficult to many citizens, if not threatening; they aren’t generally comfortable with it. They are, generally, comfortable with museums. Museums can channel this comfort and confidence into the planning process by applying their public trust, educational strengths, storytelling and interpretive skills, and the public’s familiarity with museums toward the often confusing and usually complex elements of planning.

Knowing this, I pose the following question to colleagues in city museums elsewhere: What is the responsibility of city museums, more generally, in supporting these functions in their own and others’ cities? 30 CHET ORLOFF My answer to this larger question, and the substance of this chapter, is that (1) city museums have an obligation—more than merely an opportunity—to play significant and meaningful roles in urban and regional planning; and (2) city museums, working collaboratively within dynamic partnerships and an international network, can apply the capabilities and knowledge they hold within their staffs and collections to make profound contributions to their own and others’ communities.

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