Inclusivity: New Wine in Old Bottles?

By Petra Chu.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Inclusivity in museums is commonly considered a new, 21st-century concept. It is seen as postmodern and it is frequently opposed to the alleged elitism of the modern museum. However, inclusivity has been a consideration since the very foundation of museums; indeed, one might argue that the very idea of a public museum is based on the notion of inclusivity.

If it is misleading to oppose the inclusivity of the post-museum to the elitism of the modern museum, it CAN be argued that the definition of inclusivity has changed radically over the past two and a half centuries. It is this change of meaning that I intend to discuss in my paper. Using three museums, the Louvre, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Newark Museum as case studies, I will show not only that the notion of inclusivity has changed but also that the definition of inclusivity is culture-bound.

Finally, I will connect the three historical examples with the present to see whether lessons may still be learned from these older models of inclusivity.

Keywords: Inclusivity, History, Modern, Postmodern, Louvre, Victoria and Albert Museum, Newark Museum, Culture

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.95-102. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 568.377KB).

Dr. Petra Chu

Professor of Art History and Museum Studies, Director of Graduate Studies, MA Program Museum Professions, Department of Art, Music, and Design, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ, USA

Professor of Art History and Museum Studies (History and Theory), Petra ten-Doesschate Chu has published seven books, including , most recently, The Most Arrogant Man in France: Gustave Courbet and the Nineteenth-Century Media Culture ( Princeton University Press, 2007) and Twenty-First-Century Perspectives on Nineteenth-Century Art (co-edited with Laurinda S.Dixon; University of Delaware Press, 2008). Her books have been reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books, the TLS, the Wall Street Journal, and the New Yorker, as well as in numerous scholarly journals. Chu also is the author of a widely used textbook in nineteenth-century art, of which she is currently preparing the third revised edition, and she is the author/co-author of three exhibition catalogues as well as numerous journal articles and chapters in anthologies. She has been the recipient of several awards, including a J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, two NEH fellowships, and residential fellowships in the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Humanities Research Center at the Australian National University in Canada, and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in Wassenaar (Neth.). She is the founder and managing editor of Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, the first electronic journal in art history (www.19thc-artworldwide.org).

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