Author(s): James Cuno
Based on a lecture series of the same title held in 2000-2001 by the Harvard Program for Art Museum Directors, this book also includes an introduction by Cuno and a roundtable discussion among the participating directors. It is a collection of sustained reflections by prominent museum directors on the state of affairs in their profession.
These essays are rare treasures in the debate about contemporary museums. Each piece is rich in deep personal insight, much of it gained--one suspects--in a battle with the financial and political pressures faced by art museums at present. There is a generous feel to the book, such that it seems as though you are glimpsing that which would normally be hidden from public view... Putting art back at the center of art museums will not be easy; this is the closest there is to a manifesto. -- Josie Appleton, Times Literary Supplement An unusually thoughtful series of meditations on the fundamental purposes of museums and how they should serve their public by six of the world's leading museum directors... Cumulatively, it becomes clear that these essays are an unusually soul-searching description of the core beliefs of the small group of men who run the major museums in Britain and America. -- Charles Saumarez Smith, Spectator An eloquent and powerful statement of what one might call the traditional, or alternatively the true, objectives of the museum of art. Essential reading for the museum enthusiast. -- Giles Waterfield, Art Newspaper Cuno is alarmed about the state of his profession... The brilliant new book he has edited, Whose Muse, is a passionate argument for art museums to stop mimicking shopping malls and return to their primary purpose, an encounter between visitor and object. -- Christine Temin, The Boston Globe A comprehensive and sometimes eloquent overview of many of the major issues of museums today, with special emphasis on the public's trust of museums, their authority, and their responsibilities to society... Handsomely produced, this is a report from the front lines of one of the most important parts of American society today. -- Choice For any museum visitor these revelations of what the museum directors think of what we think of them are fascinating, and sometimes shocking. -- Maev Kennedy, Art Quarterly
James Cuno is President and Director of the Art Institute of Chicago; Philippe de Montebello is Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Glenn D. Lowry is Director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Neil MacGregor is Director of the British Museum, London; John Walsh is Director Emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and James N. Wood is Former President and Director of the Art Institute of Chicago.