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The Poetic Museum: Reviving Historic Collections (Art & Design) Hardcover – April, 2002


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"Extraordinarily global, exceptionally non-partisan."

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In the rush to modernise, some museums have replaced almost all their collections with interactive exhibits and computers while others have put everything they can on display, turning their museums into pastiche cabinets of curiosity. Author Julian Spalding maintains that both approaches devalue visiting museums and galleries. The frontiers of knowledge are no longer collectible as they were during the Enlightenment, when museums became a central way of understanding natural and human history. Using examples as varied as the Louvre in Paris, the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., the State Museum of Political History in St.Petersburg, and the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore, Spalding illustrates how to use objects and artefacts to create profound and poetic insights into the past. Writing for the visitor as well as the professional, he investigates every aspect of museum work from collecting to financing, buildings to displays, revealing entrenched habits which must be reformed to reach a wider and increasingly sophisticated public. Most importantly, Spalding describes how his own ideal, the Poetic Museum, would transform traditional museums and greatly extend their audiences. Accessible, radical, and filled with important recommendations as well as entertaining insights, this groundbreaking polemic is certain to spark public as well as professional debate for years to come.
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