Review by Choice Review
An authoritative reference work that lists more than 200 selected museums in countries from Afghanistan to Zaire. The articles, by 120 contributors, are arranged alphabetically by country and subarranged by city and museum name. This set responds to the need for a work that offers serious researchers scholarly articles on the history and collections of the world's major museums. Entries for each museum include history, development of the collections, administrative structure, funding, brief analysis of collections, and a short select bibliography. The front matter includes a list of contributors and an introductory essay on the art museum and society; Volume 2 ends with a glossary of terms, selected bibliography on museology in general, detailed index, and brief biographies of contributors. This original new reference tool is neither a museum guide nor a directory: thus it is not illustrated and is limited to the more important museums. Major academic, research, and art libraries will want this encyclopedic work, which they may choose to supplement with a comprehensive directory (Kenneth Hudson and Ann Nicholls's Directory of Museums and Living Displays, 3rd ed., CH, Sep '86), a bibliography (World Museum Publications 1982, CH, Apr '83), and country and regional museum guides.-F. Blum, Eastern Michigan University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review
When previous editions of The Directory of Museums & Living Displays were published as The Directory of World Museums in 1975 (Columbia; see RSBR, July 15, 1975) and 1981 (Facts On File; see RSBR, August 1982), the work was praised for its immense scope and coverage of obscure institutions but was criticized for its indexing problems the subject index was dropped with the second edition and its scant information about collections, especially for large institutions. In this third edition, Nicholls and Hudson (the latter has written extensively on industrial archaeology as well as on museums) have not responded to the criticism of the previous editions, but have instead expanded the volume by including what they call ``for want of a better term, Living Displays the world's zoos, aquaria, botanical gardens and living-history farms.'' The reason they give for this inclusion is that the International Council of Museums (ICOM) now includes these exhibits as falling within its definition of museums and because ``there is no logical justification for keeping them out.'' The authors have included ``any establishment which is regularly open to the public, whether by previous application or not, which has a permanent collection of some kind or a coherent exhibition policy, and which has made some effort to present and interpret what is on display.'' Excluded are ``country houses which do no more than open their doors, the tightly-sealed treasure-houses of the wealthy,'' galleries that display only exhibitions drawn from elsewhere, and purely profit-oriented enterprises such as wax museums. The Directory covers nearly 35,000 museums in 168 countries, almost twice the number of its closest competitor, Museums of the World (K. G. Saur, 3d ed., 1981; see RSBR, August 1982). Entries are arranged by country, then by city, then alphabetically (letter by letter) by the name of the museum. U.S. museums are in one large alphabet by city, not broken out by state. At the beginning of each country's section is an introduction that provides the country's GNP per capita, its population, and the number of museums in the country. These figures are followed by an informative but brief overview of the status and characteristics of museums in the country. (For example, in Argentina all major banks have museums to illustrate their histories, and in Finland most museums are of the open-air variety consisting of farmhouses and outbuildings.) Entries for each museum include the address, when available, and a nonevaluative summary of the museum's collections, mostly consisting of short, descriptive words or phrases such as ``local history'' or ``religious icons.'' Some museums often the more specialized ones are given longer descriptions, but even the longest entries seldom exceed 50 words. There is no indication of hours, size of collection or staff, facilities, or programs. The location, name, and description are given in English; names and addresses are given in the original language ``when likely that correspondence would not arrive if addressed in English.'' Commonly used unofficial names are also listed. A glossary offers definitions of words and phrases in the descriptions of museums likely to be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Among terms such as folk art and colonial are found some surprises: fascist, liberation movement, and revolutionary, for example. Although the slight amount of information, especially on collection size, can be frustrating, the Directory's most serious flaw is its complete lack of access by subject or by museum name. The authors state that, after discussing the matter with people in the museum industry, they doubted whether an index would be used and concluded that one would have been merely expensive ``window-dressing.'' However, under the present arrangement, the only way a user can gain access to information on a particular museum is to know the name of the city in which it is located. For example, in order to find the entr
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review
This reference book is composed of signed, scholarly articles on selected art museums around the world. Each entry provides a brief history of the museum, its administrative structure and funding, a history of the development of the collection, and an analysis of the most significant works in the collection. The often lengthy articles are followed by selected bibliographies. This volume will be of great use to scholars for the valuable and frequently difficult to obtain information it provides, including facts about museum libraries and the availability of slides and photographs. Not only will it be a wonderful reference tool for researchers, but it also makes fascinating reading for the armchair traveler. Highly recommended. (Glossary, artist index, and general index not seen.) Lynell A. Morr, John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art Lib., Sarasota, Fla. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.