The politics of Canadian museums - the controversies, boycotts, and debates - and the international impact of the innovations they have stimulated.
The ways in which Aboriginal people and museums work together have changed drastically in recent decades. This historic process of decolonization, including distinctive attempts to institutionalize multiculturalism, has pushed Canadian museums to pioneer new practices that can accommodate both difference and inclusivity.
Ruth Phillips argues that these practices are "indigenous" not only because they originate in Aboriginal activism but because they draw on a distinctively Canadian preference for compromise and tolerance for ambiguity. Phillips dissects seminal exhibitions of Indigenous art to show how changes in display, curatorial voice, and authority stem from broad social, economic, and political forces outside the museum and moves beyond Canadian institutions and practices to discuss historically interrelated developments and exhibitions in the United States, Britain, Australia, and elsewhere. Drawing on forty years of experience as an art historian, curator, exhibition critic, and museum director, she emphasizes the complex and situated nature of the problems that face museums, introducing new perspectives on controversial exhibitions and moments of contestation.
A manifesto that calls on us to re-imagine the museum as a place to embrace global interconnectedness, Museum Pieces emphasizes the transformative power of museum controversy and analyses shifting ideas about art, authenticity, and power in the modern museum.