Clive Gray's The Politics Of The American Museum

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Why do museums matter? Museums matter because of the power they have to shape the general public’s knowledge and in some cases opinions. Stephen Weil, a museum scholar working at the Smithsonian, notes in his article ““From Being about Something to Being for Somebody: The Ongoing Transformation of the American Museum,” that American museums have undergone a shift from a “mere refreshment (the museum as carbonated beverage) to education (the museum as a site for informal learning) to nothing short of communal empowerment (the museum as an instrument for social change).” The power to drive social change is what both places museums in a position of power, and in a position to fight systemic power issues. By drawing the public in through tourist…show more content…
History is often written by people in positions of power, though the social history movement has made some strides in filling in what a normal person’s life was like during certain times. Therefore, “museums can be seen to establish a means to represent the manner in which power is distributed within societies in terms of what is believed to be worthy of exhibition within them, the manner in which this exhibition takes place, and whose interests are represented within these exhibitions.” This point, illustrated in Clive Gray’s The Politics of Museums, further supports the point that museum staff, simply because they can choose what to present, how to present it, and who is involved in that presentation are holding power positions in…show more content…
These conflicts are displays of power, the result of groups flexing their muscles to express who they are or to beat back the claims of others.” Steven Dubin discusses how museums, especially anthropological museums have for decades decided how certain groups were seen purely by their interpretation of objects from one such group. Recently, however, there has been a significant push in museums to encourage cooperation with indigenous and tribal groups throughout the world. Within this space, tribal museums that present one particular group’s views on the world and themselves have flourished. One such example of this would be the Stó:lō Nation and their exhibit Man Turned to Stone:T'xwelátse, the Stó:lō designed and planned the exhibit themeselves and also came up with educational material to go along with it. This is just one of the many exhibits and museums that are being run and desinged by indgenous

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