Top 5 Best Books on Museology - Must Read!!
Updated: Mar 25
Whether you are a restorer, a curator, or any other museum professional, museum care can feel sometimes intimidating. You have to handle a lot of responsibilities—from protecting the objects to managing the exhibition and everything in between.
While you can reach out to your peers or seniors for guidance, picking a book by a museum expert who thoughtfully presents and explains the concepts and guidance on museum care is a great help. Resources like these can help you realize that museum care doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming when done right.
Fortunately, several books have been written by experts to help understand and address all important aspects of museum care such as restoration, marketing, and conservation.
Below are our recommendations of the best books on museology you should own.
What Makes a Great Exhibition? By Paula Marincola
Let’s admit it.
Museums are changing from a house of rare art into audience-friendly institutions that often showcase items to draw crowds. However, in midst of this transformation, there is an unanswered question pops out—What makes a great exhibition?
Here comes this book that compiled the views of museum experts, including the world’s leading curators and art historians.
The book “What Makes a Great Exhibition?” probes into the challenges being faced by American and European art. The distinguished experts put forward their views on diverse topics. Some of the interesting topics that have been addressed by the contributors are “ethnically-focused exhibitions” and “exhibition and exhibition-maker”.
What Makes a Great Exhibition? is really a thought-provoking piece on the practice of curatorial work and the mission of modern museums.
The Conservation and Restoration of Paintings by John Clifton:
This is a detailed guidebook to the interesting aspects of conservation and restoration of paintings. The book talks about the issues of confusing and multilayered problems.
The author has also explained basic techniques, materials used in both the original paintings and in restoration, chemical formulas, and the tools and methods of storage and handling. He has also advised on how to avoid the common pitfalls. The book includes chapters on the Restorer and the Studio; Construction of Paintings; Technique of Painting; Renovation and Repair; and a bibliography, glossary, and index.
Plus, the chapters are made more engaging and understandable with illustrations on techniques and the assembly of the components.
Museum Marketing and Strategy by Philip Kotler, Neil G. Kotler, and Wendy I. Kotler:
Revised and updated, this book is a useful resource when it comes to museum marketing and strategy.
It explains a tried and tested framework for examining marketing and strategic goals associated with the museum’s mission, opportunities, challenges, and resources.
The book includes a complete range of marketing techniques and covers the most current information on branding, positioning, and e-marketing.
Besides, it outlines the issues associated with the museum community and provides solutions such as the definition of the exchange process between a consumer value and a museum’s offerings; differentiating a museum and communicating its unique value in a competitive marketplace; finding, creating, and retaining consumers and converting visitors to members and members to volunteers; and achieving financial stability.
The book guides you on how to develop a consumer-centered museum. A must-have for new museums or the one that wants to draw more visitors!
The Curator’s Handbook by Adrian George:
This is the essential resource for the curators and curatorial students, covering every stage of the process of organizing an exhibition, regardless of the venue, from initial idea to final installation.
It explains curatorial work from its origins in the 17th century onward and highlights the roles of the modern curator. Its chapters cover the tracing of the various stages of the exhibition process and present information in a lucid, informative language through helpful illustrations and tables.
Some of the important topics covered by this book are creating the concept to writing contracts and loan requests; aligning budgets and schedules; creating exhibition catalogs and interpretation materials; designing gallery spaces; working with art handlers, lenders, and artists; organizing private exhibitions or shows; and documenting a show.
Conservation Treatment Methodology by Barbara Appelbaum:
It is important to know how to interact with an object before you start handling and treating it.
All you need to shop this book by Barbara Appelbaum.
The book has listed all the visual examination and documentation to help you choose the right method and materials for treating the objects. The author has also guided on all the different things you should have for successful conservation.
You will also find out why one approach might not work for every object even if it is made from the same material or by the same artist. The book also highlights the importance of going through the material science of the object as well as its historical and cultural significance and sentimental value while “treating” it.
So these are the books on museology to help you hone your skills as a museum professional. Which one is your favorite?