Cosmopolitan Ambassadors: Touring Exhibitions, Cultural Diplomacy and the Intercultural Museum

Lee Davidson, Leticia Pérez-Castellanos (Eds.)

by Lee Davidson (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand), Leticia Pérez-Castellanos (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico)

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Cosmopolitan Ambassadors: Touring Exhibitions, Cultural Diplomacy and the Intercultural Museum critically examines international exhibitions, looking at both theoretical and practical implications. How are museums working internationally through exhibitions? What motivates this work? What are the benefits and challenges? What factors contribute to success? What impact does this work have for audiences and other stakeholders? What contributions are they making to cultural diplomacy, intercultural dialogue and understanding? In seeking answers to these questions, the book first provides an overview of the current state of knowledge about international touring exhibitions: their history, current practice, debates and issues. It then proposes an interdisciplinary analytical framework, encompassing museum studies, visitor studies, cultural diplomacy and international relations, intercultural communication/education, and theories of cosmopolitanism. Having laid the theoretical groundwork, it presents a comprehensive empirical analysis of an exhibition exchange involving two exhibitions that crossed five countries and three continents, connecting six high profile cultural institutions and spanning almost a decade from initial conception to completion. A detailed comparison of both the intercultural production of touring exhibitions by museum partnerships and by the interpretive acts and meaning-making of visitors, reveals the many complexities, challenges, tensions and rewards of international museum exhibitions and their intersection with cultural diplomacy. Key themes include the realities of international collaboration, its purposes, processes and challenges, including communication and relationship building; the politics of cultural (self-)representation and Indigenous museology; implications for exhibition design, interpretation, and marketing; intercultural competency and museum practice; audience reception and meaning-making; cultural diplomacy in practice and perceptions of its value. This first-ever detailed, empirically-grounded, theoretical analysis provides the basis of a critical theory of international touring exhibitions and guidelines for practice, including recommendations for successful international museum partnerships and exhibitions aimed at facilitating intercultural understanding for audiences and enhancing intercultural practices among museum professionals, and maximizing the potential contribution cultural diplomacy.

Chapter 1: Introduction
- International touring exhibitions past and present, key issues and debates
- Museums, cultural diplomacy and intercultural understanding: an analytical framework
- Background to the study
- Research design and methods
- Structure of the book

Chapter 2: Collaboration and complexity: producing international touring exhibitions
- Touring exhibition models: exchange, partnership & collaboration
- Aims & purposes
- Key challenges
- Communication & relationship building

Chapter 3: Developing intercultural exhibitions
- Cultural (self)representation: Aztecs & E Tū Ake compared
- Exhibition development, including: object selection; spatial design; interpretive style & techniques; education & public programmes; marketing, branding and retail
- The dynamics of engagement and understanding: maintaining cultural sensitivity and attracting audiences

Chapter 4: Visitor meaning-making and intercultural understanding
- Maori in Mexico: ‘living culture’ and mana taonga
- Aztecs in Oceania: war, religion and everyday life
- Negotiating cultural difference: human sacrifice, ta moko & the cosmopolitan attitude
- From past to present: cultural exhibitions and contemporary impressions

Chapter 5: The cultural diplomacy of touring exhibitions
- National agendas and the role of governments
- Museums as diplomats: a cosmopolitan vision?
- Outcomes & measures of success

Chapter 6: Conclusion
- A critical theory of international touring exhibitions
- Guidelines for practice: from cross-cultural encounters to intercultural solutions
- Museums as global cosmopolitan ambassadors: future directions for touring exhibitions & cultural diplomacy

Dr Lee Davidson is a Senior Lecturer in Museum & Heritage Studies at Victoria University of Wellington where she has been teaching since 1999. Her current research and teaching includes visitor studies (theory and methods); cultural diplomacy, touring exhibitions and intercultural museum practice; natural heritage; heritage tourism and sustainable development. Since 2011 she has been involved in two interconnected transnational research projects on international touring exhibitions. She regularly presents at international conferences, as well as giving invited seminars. For the past two years she has been a visiting professor on the International Course of Museology at the Escuela Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museografía (ENCRyM), INAH, México. Her interdisciplinary research has been published in journals such as Leisure Sciences, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, International Journal of Travel Research and Visitor Studies, and she has been invited to contribute chapters to volumes by major publishers across the fields of museum studies, leisure, tourism and anthropology. Highlights include her co-authored book Serious Leisure and Nature (with Robert A Stebbins), published by Palgrave in 2011, and a chapter on visitor studies in the volume Museum Practice (published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2015).

Leticia Pérez-Castellanos obtained her Masters Degree at the Escuela Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museografía del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) in México, where she is currently a professor and has coordinated the Post Graduate Studies Program in Museology. Her masters thesis was an analysis of INAH’s cultural policy on international exhibition exhanges, her interests are focused on visitor studies and international exhibitions, particularly the reception and appreciation of overseas audiences when encountering displays of Mexican culture. Previously she worked in the creation and operation of the Interactive Museum of Economy (MIDE) in Mexico City as Coordinator of Visitor Studies. She then became Sub-director of International Exhibitions at INAH´s National Museum Coordination, participating in the organization and planning of numerous international exhibitions. During an internship at Spain’s Ministerio de Cultura, she collaborated with the Ibermuseos Program in the implementation of the Observatorio Iberoamericano de Museos. She has recently contributed to a course for the Programa de Posgraduación Interunidades en Museología at the University of Sao Paulo, Brasil and with the Master de Arqueología y Patrimonio at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. She coordinates the series: Estudios sobre públicos y Museos.

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title
Cosmopolitan Ambassadors: Touring Exhibitions, Cultural Diplomacy and the Intercultural Museum
ISBN
978-1-62273-174-9
Edition
1st
Number of pages
130
Physical size
236mm x 160mm
Publication date
May 2018
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