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Museum Studies in the Twenty-First Century: Theory and Praxis (September): Book Series, Journals, and Repositories

By Juilee Decker

Book Series, Journals, and Repositories

Several book series will be useful to museum studies students and practitioners. A few titles from these series have been discussed above, but these series are valuable in their entirety for examining complex, relevant, and timely issues facing the field. Routledge’s “Museum Meanings,” which dates to 1997 and is currently edited by Richard Sandell and Christina Krep, offers perspectives on the social, cultural, and political significance of museums and the relationship between museums and their publics. The “Interpreting History” series, launched in 2014 under the auspices of the American Association of State and Local History, provides guidance in exhibition and interpretation for history museums, historic houses and sites, and interpretation centers. Begun in 1994, the “Leicester Readers in Museum Studies” addresses topics such as museum management, collections management, education, and preventive conservation. And the “Key Issues in Cultural Heritage” series, currently edited by William Logan and Laurajane Smith, addresses interdisciplinary debates, theories, and issues facing heritage studies. The four-volume “Innovative Approaches for Museums” series, edited by Juilee Decker, addresses technology and digital initiatives; engagement and access; collections care and stewardship (with attention to museum studies curricula as well); and fundraising and strategic planning.

The following peer-reviewed journals reflect active scholarship over the past several decades: Collections: A Journal for Museum & Archives Professionals; Curator: The Museum Journal; International Journal of Cultural Property; International Journal of Heritage Studies; Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies; Journal of the History of Collections; Journal of Museum Education; Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship; Museum and Society; Museum Worlds; The Public Historian; Visitor Studies. (This list is not inclusive.) All are available online and some are open access. The boards of these publications comprise museum, cultural heritage, and collections professionals along with scholars in these fields.

Numerous digital resources offer repositories of documents, reports, and other materials essential to museum studies. Many of these also offer community forums for members to contribute to dialogue and learn from one another. At its website the American Association for State and Local History offers a variety of resources, including technical leaflets. The National Council on Public History serves public historians, including students of museum studies and museum professionals. Particularly interesting at this site are the blog History@Work and the newsletter Public History News.

Three large organizations have broad reach and offer numerous digital resources: American Alliance of Museums (AAM), International Council of Museums (ICOM), and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).  AAM currently serves more than 35,000 museum professionals, students, volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners engaged in work that contributes to the field. Its resources, some of which are open to the public, include career and job information, TrendsWatch (a forecasting report identifying broad trends relevant to museums, their communities, and the staff serving them), and information about ethics, standards, and best practices. Similar to AAM, ICOM identifies itself as “the world museum community,” and it offers professional standards and resources of great value to museum studies students and professionals. The IMLS, a federal agency administering discretionary federal programs, provides free access to publications as well as surveys and data in the areas of library and museum needs, administration, and funding reports. Among its resources is “Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills,” which situates museums as part of the matrix of informal learning experiences in areas such as critical thinking and problem solving; visual, scientific, information, media, technology, and numerical literacy; communication and collaboration; and cross-cultural skills.