MUSEUMS: What They Are and How They Work by Cass R. Sandak

MUSEUMS: What They Are and How They Work

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In his platitudionous introduction, Sandak tells us that museums are ""magic places,"" ""both real and make believe."" ""They help us to make sense out of the universe and our part in it. They make us aware of the world around us."" Then, in the book's last paragraph: ""Museums are touchstones for fantasy, a lot like flying carpets. Museums. . . make us aware of the richness of life around us, both now and in the past."" Clearly, he hasn't much to say about museums, and the 64 intervening photo-illustrated pages don't lead to any new insights or deeper understanding. Essentially, the material one might find in a World Book entry (types of museums, some famous examples, kinds of displays and programs) is padded with a few more specific but insufficiently detailed statements on preservation and similar matters. We learn that the Pieta traveled to New York's World's Fair in an airtight crate ""constructed so that it would float and send out an electronic distress signal should the ship in which it was traveling sink""; and that ""some scrolls found in Jordan in 1952"" had to be coated with plastic and cut into narrow strips to be read, as unrolling would crumble the ancient copper. But even these scattered tidbits are few and far between, and offset by bland non-information and obvious advice on museum visits (wear comfortable clothes; be aware that museums close on certain days; hit only the high points at large museums). Flabby.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Watts