Annette B. Fromm, Viv Golding, Per B. Rekdal (eds.), Museums and Truth, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014. ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-5449-8. ISBN-10: 1-4438-5449-2

Museums are usually seen as arenas for the authorised presentations of reality, based on serious, professional knowledge. Yet, in spite of the impossibility of giving anything but a highly abstract and extremely selective impression in an exhibition, very few museums problematize this or discuss their priorities with their public. They don’t ask “what are the other truths of the matter?” Though the essays in this collection are not written with museums and truth as their explicit subject, they highlight contested truths, the absence of the truth of the underprivileged, whether one truth is more worthy than the other, and whether lesser truths can dilute the value of greater truths.

One of the articles included here lets youngsters choose which truth is most probable or just, while another talks about an exhibition where the public must choose which truth to adhere to before entering. One shows how a political change gives a new opportunity to finally restore valuable truths of the past to the present, and another describes the highly dangerous task of making museums and memorials for the truths of the oppressed. Lastly, one explores whether we live in a period where the sources for authorized truths are fragmented and questioned, and asks, what should the consequences for museums be?

About the editors

Annette B. Fromm, PhD, a folklorist and museum specialist, has over thirty years of experience in small and large museums and community-based projects in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Florida, with emphasis ranging from ethnic cultural diversity to historic preservation. She is the immediate past President of the International Committee for Museums of Ethnography (ICME). Fromm is the Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies program at Florida International University.

Viv Golding holds a PhD in Museum Studies. She is Director of the Learning and Visitor Studies program and Senior Lecturer at the University of Leicester School of Museum Studies, which she joined in 2002, and was elected as Chair of ICME in 2013. Her research interests center on diversity, and she publishes widely on this theme. Her most recent publications include Museum and Communities: Curators, Collections Collaboration (2013) and Learning at the Museum Frontiers: Identity Race and Power (2009).

Per B. Rekdal is currently Senior Advisor at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo. He has served as Director of the University Museum of Ethnography, as Head of Exhibitions, Education and Public Services of the Museum of Cultural History, and as Chair of ICME from 1998–2004.