Arthur Mehrhoff

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University of Missouri - Columbia

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Museum Studies Resources

  • The American Association of Museums (AAM) has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and advocating on issues of concern to the entire museum community. AAM is dedicated to ensuring that museums remain a vital part of the American cultural landscape, helping connect people with their cultural heritage. The Museum of Art & Archaeology is fully accredited by AAM.
  • The American Association of State and Local History is an outstanding and longstanding organization devoted to the interpretation of state and local history. While not specifically about museums, AASLH offers many resources that can be applied to help bring our cultural heritage to life for contemporary visitors.
  • John Cotton Dana founded the Newark Museum in 1909, directing it until his death. The Newark Museum was unique at that time because it included contemporary American commercial products as folk art, challenging elitist notions of what a museum should be or display and posing questions that museums still must deal with today. While Dana personally did not like modern art, he believed in the principle of a universal museum. Dana was quoted as saying, “A great department store, easily reached, open at all hours, is more like a good museum of art than any of the museums we have yet established” His influence continues to affect our understanding of museums and their role within their communities.
  • Check out the Davis Museumcasts from Wellesley College, a series of exhibitions-based podcast tours that demonstrate the considerable potential of ekphrasis to add meaning and enjoyment to the museum experience. The podcasts feature poetry, drama, first-person history narratives, landscape architecture, and a variety of other creative responses to museum art and artifacts.
  • Why Do Universities Have Museums? by Kimberly Rorschach. The new director of the Nasher Museum of Art thoughtfully discusses the historic relationship between museums and universities and where that relationship is heading. A very important work for university museums.
  • MuseumBlogging.com provides news and insights into the world of museums. In addition to this blog, Museum Blogging (a commercial website) designs, maintains, and provides custom content for websites for museums and other informal learning organizations.
  • The Contextual Model of Learning (Falk & Dierking, 2000) grew out of a theoretical framework that John H. Falk and Lynn D. Dierking (Falk & Dierking, 1992) developed after spending many hours in museums, tracking thousands of people throughout their visits, observing them in specific exhibitions, and conducting countless personal interviews (Falk & Dierking, 1992, 2000). This new model suggests that three overlapping contexts – the Personal Context, the Sociocultural Context, and the Physical Context – interact to influence museum experiences and other free-choice learning activities. Museum educators need to better understand and observe the interplay of these three contexts in order to improve the museum education experience for visitors.
  • Museum Education and the Aesthetic Experience, by Kathleen Walsh-Piper. Journal of Aesthetic Education © 1994 University of Illinois Press. Museum Education and the Aesthetic Experience by Katherine Walsh-Piper examines the complex nature of a museum experience and provides a series of practical suggestions to enhance student enjoyment and reflection about their museum experience.
  • Doing Identity Work in Museums (pdf), by Jay Rounds. Since museum visitors typically look at only about a third of the elements of an exhibition, and often give only limited attention to those, can those visitors really be getting something worthwhile from such partial usage of an exhibition? This article explores how visitors use exhibitions for "identity work," the processes through which we construct, maintain, and adapt our sense of personal identity. Museums offer a great venue for doing such identity work, but the visitor does not need to engage with exhibition content deeply or even systematically in order to gain the benefits that museum experiences offer for identity work.
  • This Select Bibliography of Museum Education and Interpretation offers an excellent introduction to the general field of museum studies.
  • According to the National Association for Interpretation, museum interpretation is a mission-based communication process that forges emotional and intellectual connections between the interests of the audience and the meanings inherent in the resource. Their website provides a wide array of resources for museum docents and educators such as conferences, training, and publication.
  • Living history expert Stacy Roth explains museum interpretation using the classic work of Freeman Tilden of the National Park Service as the foundation. An "interpreter," according to Ms. Roth, is one who translates material culture and human or natural phenomenon to the public in a meaningful and provocative way. She shows how Freeman Tilden’s timeless advice applies far beyond heritage interpretation to persuasive communication across media.

Arthur