Book ID: CBB001201272

A Living Exhibition: The Smithsonian and the Transformation of the Universal Museum (2013)

unapi

Walker, William S (Author)


University of Massachusetts Press


Publication Date: 2013
Physical Details: xi + 291 pp.; ill.; bibl.; index
Language: English

Since its founding in 1846 for the increase and diffusion of knowledge, the Smithsonian Institution has been an important feature of the American cultural landscape. In A Living Exhibition, William S. Walker examines the tangled history of cultural exhibition at the Smithsonian from its early years to the chartering of the National Museum of the American Indian in 1989. He tracks the transformation of the institution from its original ideal as a universal museum intended to present the totality of human experience to the variegated museum and research complex of today. Walker pays particular attention to the half century following World War II, when the Smithsonian significantly expanded. Focusing on its exhibitions of cultural history, cultural anthropology, and folk life, he places the Smithsonian within the larger context of Cold War America and the social movements of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. Organized chronologically, the book uses the lens of the Smithsonian's changing exhibitions to show how institutional decisions become intertwined with broader public debates about pluralism, multiculturalism, and decolonization. Yet if a trend toward more culturally specific museums and exhibitions characterized the postwar history of the institution, its leaders and curators did not abandon the vision of the universal museum. Instead, Walker shows, even as the Smithsonian evolved into an extensive complex of museums, galleries, and research centers, it continued to negotiate the imperatives of cultural convergence as well as divergence, embodying both a desire to put everything together and a need to take it all apart.

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Description Examines the “history of cultural exhibition at the Smithsonian from its early years to the chartering of the National Museum of the American Indian in 1989.” (from the publisher)


Reviewed By

Review Bergman, Teresa (2014) Review of "A Living Exhibition: The Smithsonian and the Transformation of the Universal Museum". Journal of American History (p. 230). unapi

Review Conn, Steven (2014) Review of "A Living Exhibition: The Smithsonian and the Transformation of the Universal Museum". American Historical Review (pp. 945-946). unapi

Review Bergman, Teresa (2014) Review of "A Living Exhibition: The Smithsonian and the Transformation of the Universal Museum". Journal of American History (pp. 230-231). unapi

Citation URI
http://data.isiscb.org/isis/citation/CBB001201272/

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Authors & Contributors
Yochelson, Ellis Leon
Kohlstedt, Sally Gregory
Parezo, Nancy J.
Jonsson, Hjorleifur R
Isaac, Gwyneira L.
Podgorny, Irina
Journals
Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Museum History Journal
Journal of the History of Collections
Publishers
Liverpool University Press
Harvard University Press
Bloomsbury
Board of the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium
Basilisken-Presse
University of Pennsylvania Press
Concepts
Museums
Societies; institutions; academies
Natural history
Anthropology
National histories
Biographies
People
Smithson, James
Mason, Otis Tufton
Goode, George Brown
Peale, Charles Willison
Futter, Ellen
Osborn, Henry Fairfield
Places
United States
France
Australia
Africa
Latin America
Great Britain
Times
19th century
20th century
18th century
20th century, early
21st century
Institutions
Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
University of California, Berkeley
Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin
Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia
Greek Philological Society of Constantinople
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