Museums as Political Institutions
The previous chapters have demonstrated that museums not only have a political dimension but that they are inescapably political. It is difficult, if not actually impossible, to deny the impact that forms of political engagement and activity have for the ways in which museums function, what they are both expected to do and actually undertake, what they provide for the various groups and individuals that are associated with them, and what the consequences of their existence are for the societies within which they are located. Each of these concerns is intimately connected to key political concepts of power, legitimacy and ideology and are worked through via mechanisms of political rationality and justification. It is also the case that the role played by these concepts takes different forms and involves different sets of actors according to which geographical perspective is adopted, with the international, national and local politics of museums operating in quite distinct fashions from each other. This final chapter brings together the arguments that have been earlier developed to establish a series of general conclusions that assess the ways in which these central political concepts can be used to make sense of the questions concerning the ‘who’, ‘which’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of museum politics.
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