This volume gathers together articles Tony Bennett published earlier on in various journals.
Bennett is interested in the formation of museums in the 19th century and later on in the 20th century, and on the educational and intructional intentions and objectives as translated in their arragements by the 'inventors' of museums. Bennett therefore focuses on the conceptual side of museums rather than on their reception by their audience.
In particular, Bennett addresses the theoretical and practical connections between museums, fairs, and international exhibitions.
Because the various chapters are written from a position within cultural studies, this book should appeal to a wide readership, and should still be relevant, although all articles have been written in the 1980s and 1990s.
It can be at times a difficult read, but it is also thought-provoking and inspiring.
This book is an intriguing analysis of the purpose of museums, comparing them to fairs, prisons, department stores among others, to show their political and social role. Not an easy read but a series if beguiling intellectualised approaches to the subjects.