First published in 1995, this book has become along the years a standard of art history and museum studies disciplinary discourses. With its interest in art galleries's space, activities and objectives, this book develop ideas on a central issue, that is the political implications of the museum/gallery.
It is valuable for giving a broad view on the creation of world-famous art institutions like the Louvre, the National Gallery, London and Washington, DC, or the Getty Museum.
1. The Art museum as ritual, 7
focuses on defining the idea of ritual and how it applies to the concept of museum
2. From the princely gallery to the public art museum: the Louvre Museum and the National Gallery, London, 21
analyses in turn the formative stages of the creation of the Louvre and the National Gallery in London, how they were fuelled by different political circumstances, and how this difference in their inception is perceptible in their built environment
3. Public Spaces, private interests: municipal art museums in New York and Chicago, 48
focuses mostly on the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to emphasize the contradictions between liberal aspirations and aristocratic-style practices of their founders and trustees
4. Something eternal: the donor memorial, 72
enquires about the various roles and objectives of the Wallace, the Stewart Gardner, the Frick, the Huntington, and the Mellon in the creation of various collections and the way they negotiated the memorialization of their person via the creation of these collections made public after their death
5. The modern art museum: it's a man's world, 102
makes a point about the representation of the female identity in the modern art museum in general, and how the contemporary museum has seen a displacement towards an increased commodification of the rituals it welcomes within its walls