Review by Choice Review
This volume is a rare combination of serious scholarship and common sense offered in an evenhanded yet passionate manner. McClellan (Tufts) provides a broad-ranging history of the art museum from its inception in the 18th century to the present. In the process, the text presents the ongoing debate about the art museum's changing role in society by focusing on key issues that engage both critics and supporters. In a lively, insightful introduction, the author outlines the continuing conflicts between traditional and progressive viewpoints. These are subsequently explored in depth in six chapters: "Ideals and Mission," "Architecture," "Collecting, Classification, and Display," "The Public," "Commercialism," and "Restitution and Repatriation." This richly detailed and referenced text is effectively drawn together in a conclusion that reiterates the necessity of understanding today's art museum issues in the larger perspective of museum history. McClellan's writing style is fluid and readable while carrying the authority of a rich academic background that is evident in the book's extensive, impressively comprehensive notes. The text is effectively illustrated with 112 well-chosen illustrations of good quality. This major contribution to the literature on museology will be indispensable to students contemplating careers in art museums and an important reference for practitioners. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-level undergraduates and above. J. A. Day University of South Dakota
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.