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August 9th, 2007

Two new publications have appeared in the last few months.

2007: With Janette Griffin, Lynn Baum, Jane Blankman-Hetrick, Julie I Johnson, Christine A. Reich and Shawn Roe, Optimizing Learning Opportunities in Museums: The Role of Organizational Culture. Pp 153-165 In John H. Falk, Lyn D. Dierking and Susan Foutz (editors) In Principle, In Practice. Lanham MD: Altamira Press. (Go to Publisher’s site.)

This chapter, in a volume which comes from a conference organised by the Institute for Learning Innovation in Annapolis MD, explores the relationship between successful exhibitions and the culture of the museum, the proposition that a cohesive organisation is significantly more likely to produce better exhibitions. The proposition is almost naïve yet not frequently explored and not an approach to which much attention seems to be paid in museums themselves.

There has been great attention recently to exhibitions however. One of the more interesting is the volume “Are we there yet? Conversations about Best Practices in Science Exhibition Development” (K. McLean and C. EcEver (eds). San Francisco, CA: The Exploratorium). When the Exploratorium brought people together to discuss “best practice” in science exhibition development, Kathleen McLean made the point that while various items could be identified which characterised good exhibition development, ones which promoted good outcomes for the visitor, these could not be considered a checklist for success or a panacea for exhibition development. Jay Rounds (University of Missouri, St Louis) pointed out, “a rigid standardisation of practice is a recipe for disaster. What worked yesterday probably will not work tomorrow and we have no reliable way of predicting what will. Such times call for experiments and innovations that might work well in the new environment we need strategies that can counter these initial tendencies and foster innovation, exploration and discovery of new possibilities”.

2007: with M. Abraham, The Effective Management of Museums: Cohesive Leadership and Visitor Focused Public Programming Chapter 7 in Richard Sandell & Robert R. Janes (editors), Museum Management and Marketing. Leicester: Routledge. (Reprinted from Museum Management and Curatorship 18 (4), 335-368 (2000): go to Publisher’s site.)

This paper was the final paper in the series dealing with the study of some 30 museums around the world which aimed to find what characterised the “most effective museums”. The study is summarised elsewhere on this site.

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