NEW YORK, NY.- Museum Collection Ethics
discusses the complexities inherent in acquiring, preserving, and, making accessible to the public the extraordinary range of culturally significant objects entrusted to museums. The book provides an encompassing look at the intellectual, practical and stewardship duties museums by definition assume. Differeces between ethics and laws, customes and expectations, practices and potentials are reviewed in the context of museum operations. These considerations are not synonomous. Each has its own characteristics. All infuse how museums treat collections.
Controversies regarding museum collections are increasing. Debates continue to erupt over art stolen by the Nazis during World War II. Countries once colonized are demanding the return of cultural materials purloined by colonizing nations. Indigenous populations want sacred and other objects now found in museum collections. And, decisions about how and why museums remove collections are being questioned with alarming frequency.
Essential museum collection ethics factors include:
Defining a museum as an ethical pursuit
The role of museum governing authorities regarding ethics
The ethics of collecting authority: Who has the authority to collect for musuems
What constitutes ethical collections and who decides this
How do museums collect and how do ethics infuse this activity
What are authentic collections and what is this concept ethcially
How is access to collections determined and how is this ethically accomplished be it physically or digitally
What ethics concerns involve conservation
What are the ethics of exhibition
How do ethics impact collection removals, be they voluntary or involuntary
As Miller notes in the book Collections define museums no collection, no museum! Consequently nothing museums do involves ethical cosiderations more than the intellectual construct and practices regarding what they own for public benefit. How things are obtained, kept, cared for, used, catalogued, conserved, and, on occasion, disposed of, all have ethics ramifications. Museum Collection Ethics outlines the full range of moral and behavioral duties incumbant upon museums if they are to exist and act correctly.
Endorsing the book, Bruce Katsiff, Director/CEO (retired) James A Michener Museum, Doylestown, PA notes: Collections are the soul of every museum and, for the first time, a comprehensive exploration of the myriad ethics issues they involve are explored in a single volume. Every aspect of collections stewardship is considered with thoughtful analysis and relevant case studies. The book is a must-read for any member of a musuem family.
Steven Miller has been in the museum field for nearly fifty years. During that time, he has served as a trustee, director, curator, consultant, writer, and museum studies professor. For sixteen years he was a curator at the Museum of the City of New York. The went on to direct four museums in the northeastern united States. He holds a BA in sculpture (with honors) from Bard College, and, an international graduate certificate in the principles of conservation science from the International Center for the Study of the Conservation and Preservation of Cultural Property, Rome, Italy. Miller taught for nearly two decades with the Seton Hall University MA Program in Museum Professions, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ. This is his fourth book on museum subjects. They include The Anatomy of a Museum: An insiders Text (Wiley, 2018), Deaccessioning Today: Theory and Practice (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), How to Get a Museum Job (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019).