In this volume of 29 essays, Weil's overarching concern is that museums be able to “earn their keep”—that they make themselves matter—in an environment of potentially shrinking resources. Also included in this collection are reflections on the special qualities of art museums, an investigation into the relationship of current copyright law to the visual arts, a detailed consideration of how the museums and legal system of the United States have coped with the problem of Nazi-era art, and a series of delightfully provocative training exercises for those anticipating entry into the museum field.
Stephen E. Weil is the emeritus senior scholar in the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Museum Studies. He served as deputy director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, from 1974 to 1995 and was previously administrator of the Whitney Museum of American Art. He is the author of Rethinking the Museum and Other Meditations (1990) and Beauty and the Beasts (1983), both published by Smithsonian Institution Press, as well as coauthor of several scholarly treatises on art and the law.
"An outstanding selection of informed and informative essays about the difference that museums make, their role in preserving and showcasing history and art to the public, cost-related problems plaguing museums today, and a great deal more. Enthusiastically recommended as a most thoughtful and authoritative treatise on these notable and noble institutions."—Midwest Book Review
“Mr. Weil’s work will assist us all to understand that even our most enlightened assumptions require daily visits if they are to be fresh. And, it seems clear to me after experiencing this collection, such visits must not be paid alone, but in groups of colleagues from across every museum stratum.”—Curator: The Museum Journal
“…Must-read for museum professionals, supporters, and funding sources, and [it] will certainly be relevant to anyone interested in the future of museums.”—Science