Kevin Coffee (email@example.com) is an independent scholar and museum consultant in New York City.
Museums and the Agency of Ideology: Three Recent Examples
Article first published online: 15 JAN 2010
2006 California Academy of Sciences
Curator: The Museum Journal
Volume 49, Issue 4, pages 435–448, October 2006
How to Cite
Coffee, K. (2006), Museums and the Agency of Ideology: Three Recent Examples. Curator: The Museum Journal, 49: 435–448. doi: 10.1111/j.2151-6952.2006.tb00235.x
- Issue published online: 15 JAN 2010
- Article first published online: 15 JAN 2010
Abstract Museums are not neutral organizations; they are active social participants. While museums serve many social purposes, fundamentally they define and express major social narratives. Museums are important collections of ideological symbols and perform a special communication as well as legitimizing role. The narratives conveyed by museums are observed as definitive and authoritative, and the objects displayed are understood as emblematic or normative culture. This article examines two museums and a historic site in the United States in the context of their social narratives. Attention is paid to the political implications of recent program decisions. The social and political interactions that accompany these institutions' program decisions demonstrate the ideological purpose of the museum.