Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Museum Publishing: Production and Reception of Museum Books

By Sarah Anne Hughes


This thesis addresses the phenomenon of museum publishing to question why books are produced by museums. The answer to this question is sought through an empirical study that examines museum books from both their production and their reception as well as a detailed study of the relationship of the texts to the museum.\ud The case study methodology supplies interview data from museum staff involved in writing, editing, designing and project-managing the production of books at the National Gallery and the Wellcome Collection, both in London. Interviews with staff involved with publishing in other national and provincial institutions broaden the basis of these case studies. Visitor responses are obtained primarily through questionnaires delivered electronically to volunteers who purchased exhibition books at these institutions.\ud The cross-disciplinary research draws on theories from museum and publishing studies. Data are analysed from the theoretical position of an active audience (Abercrombie and Longhurst 1998) whose uses of books encompass functions of memory and representation. Genette’s (1997) concept of paratext forms the basis from which to characterise the reciprocal relationship between catalogues and their associated exhibitions.\ud Books contribute to the communication resources of museums, but rather than being viewed merely as adjuncts to the exhibits on display, they are presented in this study as integral to the visitor’s experience both during the museum visit and later, as distributed objects in personal ownership and in wider society. The authority and cultural values associated with books when combined with those of the museum make them a particularly forceful resource for meaning-making for both the producers and the consumers

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2011
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (2008). (2007b) National Gallery companion guide. London: The National
  2. (2007). A companion to the history of the book.
  3. (2009). A cultural history of reading: Volume 2: American literature. Westport, CT and London: Greenwood Press.Radway,
  4. (2010). A reader on reading. London: Yale University Press.Marincola,
  5. (2008). A tiger seen in Shaftesbury Avenue: The grand tour. London:
  6. (2005). Agency: Promiscuous and protean’. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies.
  7. (2007). Agent of change: Print culture studies after
  8. (1991). Always true to the object, in our fashion.
  9. (2004). and Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland (2007) Richard Long: Walking and Marking. Edinburgh: National Gallery of
  10. (1998). Art and agency: An anthropological theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Genette, G.
  11. (2005). Art and museum publishing in Australia: Trends in book and cover design. Unwin Trust UK-Australian Fellowship
  12. (2008). Assistant Curator, Public Programmes,
  13. (2000). At memory’s edge: After-image of the Holocaust in contemporary art and architecture. New Haven:
  14. (1998). Audiences: A sociological theory of performance and imagination. London: Sage.Alexandratos, R.
  15. (2008). Autobiographical memory.
  16. (2010). Available at <>
  17. (2001). Balancing perspectives in exhibition text.
  18. (2002). BALTIC: The art factory: The building of BALTIC: The Centre for Contemporary Art,
  19. (2007). Baltic: The art factory. The building of BALTIC, The Centre for Contemporary Art,
  20. (1986). Bibliography and the sociology of texts. London:
  21. (2010). Book collecting and the book as object. In:
  22. (1996). Brain of the earth’s body: Museums and the framing of modernity.
  23. (2005). Building the museum: knowledge, conflict, and the power of place.
  24. (2006). C/id: Visual identity and branding for the arts.
  25. (2006). Cabinets for the curious.
  26. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods Fourth edition,
  27. (2000). Changing values in the art museum: rethinking communication and learning’.
  28. (1969). Civilisation: A personal view. London: British Broadcasting Corporation and
  29. (1999). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Wentz, P.
  30. (2007). Consuming media: Communications, shopping and everyday life.
  31. (1988). Cultural history: Between practices and representations. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  32. (2001). Cultural studies and discourse analysis. London: Sage Publications.Barkham,
  33. (2007). Curator of Post-1800 Painting,
  34. (2007). Curator, Public Programmes,
  35. (2007). Deputy Head of Education,
  36. (2009). Director, Museum of History of Science,
  37. Director, Museum of Islamic Art,
  38. (2008). Director, University of London Museums
  39. (1998). Director’s foreword.
  40. (2000). Dream spaces: Memory and the museum. London and
  41. (1993). Editor’s introduction: Pierre Bourdieu on art, literature, and culture.
  42. (2000). Encoding and decoding the people: Circuits of communication in a local heritage museum.’
  43. (2001). Ethnology: A science on display.
  44. (2006). Exhibition catalogues in the age of digital proliferation.’
  45. (2007). Exhibition Organiser,
  46. (1996). Exhibition rhetorics.
  47. (1993). Exhibitions of power and powers of exhibition: An introduction to the politics of display.
  48. (1995). Extending the frame: Forging a new partnership with the public.
  49. (2007). Head of Publishing,Victoria and Albert Museum
  50. (2007). How to talk about books you haven’t read. Translated from French by
  51. (2010). Information on changes in publishing activities at Imperial War Museum.
  52. (2009). Inspired? Get writing. Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland.National Gallery
  53. (2006). Interview, Lawrie Hunter, “Critical form as everyday practice, An interview with Ellen Lupton.”
  54. (2008). Interviewees affiliated with the Wellcome Collection case study (WC) Ken Arnold,
  55. (2007). Interviewees not affiliated with the case study institutions Janis Adams, Head of Publishing,
  56. (2009). Kindle starts a fire’. 13 February,
  57. (2003). Liberating culture: Cross-cultural perspectives on museums, curation and heritage preservation.
  58. (1985). London: Lawrence King.Imperial War Museum (2010) Imperial War Museum Annual Report and Account 2009–2010. London: Imperial War Museum.Impey,
  59. (2008). London. Visitor to Sleeping and Dreaming Moyna,
  60. (1988). Magnificent intentions’: Washington, D.C., and American anthropology in 1846.
  61. Museum (1866) A guide to the South Kensington museum.
  62. (2008). Museum visitor interviewees (Total: 301 minutes)
  63. (2007). Museums – drama, ritual and power.
  64. (2007). Museums of the mind: German modernity and the dynamics of collecting. University Park: The Pennsylvania State
  65. (2003). Museums: Theory, practice, illusion.
  66. (2008). Never mind the web: Here comes the book.
  67. (2006). New museums and the making of culture.
  68. (2010). On line. Available at
  69. (2010). On the borders of the page, on the borders of the genre: Artificial paratexts on golden age detective fiction’.
  70. (2007). One hundred details from the National Gallery, London: National Gallery Company.
  71. (2008). One hundred details from the National Gallery. London: National Gallery Company.Clifford,
  72. (2009). Organising knowledge in print. In: McKitterick, D. The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain Volume VI: 1830–1914. Cambridge:
  73. (2004). Photographs objects histories: On the materiality of images. London and
  74. (2009). Picasso: Challenging the past. London: National Gallery Company.Creswell,
  75. (1985). Power/Knowledge: Constructed space and the subject.
  76. (2008). Private and public memories of Expo 67: A case study of recollections of Montreal’s World’s Fair, 40 years after the event.’ Museum and Society,
  77. (2007). Project Editor,
  78. (2002). Remembering ourselves in the work of museums: Trauma and the place of the personal in the public.
  79. (1980). Representation: Cultural representations and signifying practices.
  80. (2007). Research on learning from museums.
  81. (2003). Researching audiences.
  82. (2009). Secretary and Chief Executive,
  83. (2007). Sleeping and dreaming. London: Black Dog
  84. (2009). Social Research Council (ESRC)(2005) Research Ethics Framework,
  85. (2007). Some non-textual uses of books.
  86. (2007). State authority and the public sphere: Ideas on the changing role of the museum as a Canadian social institution.
  87. (2009). Taking part: The national survey of culture, leisure and sport. Adult and child report 2009/10. London: Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Online at
  88. (2010). Tate publishing. Online. Available at (Accessed on 29 September 2010).Thomas, N.
  89. (1997). The American art museum: Elitism and democracy. London and Washington: Leicester University Press.Fairclough, N.
  90. (1994). The authority of documents at some American history museums.
  91. (2000). The cybercultures reader.
  92. (2007). The death of the book, again’.
  93. (2009). The exhibition: Between book and film.
  94. (1993). The field of cultural production, or: The economic world reversed in The field of cultural production: Essays on art and literature. Cambridge: Polity Press. Original publication, Bourdieu, P.
  95. (2004). The genesis and early development of the Royal Museum in Stockholm: A claim for authenticity and legitimacy.
  96. (1996). The great curatorial dim-out.
  97. (1991). The museum as a way of seeing.
  98. (1997). The new history in an old museum: Creating the past at Colonial Williamsburg.
  99. (2010). The object of reading and reading as an object: Reading as an art form and the changed discourse about books. Abstract of paper presented at Material Cultures: Texts, textuality and transmission. Centre for the History of the Book,
  100. (1995). The origins of the early picture gallery catalogue in Europe, and its manifestation of Victorian Britain’.
  101. (2008). The peopling of London project.
  102. (1979). The printing press as an agent of change: Communications and cultural transformations in early-modern Europe Volumes I and II. Cambridge:
  103. (1989). The reticent object.
  104. (2004). The show to end all shows: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Museum of Modern Art,
  105. (2008). The social life of a novel: The establishment of reading in eighteenth-century English life. Ljubljana: Studia Humanitatis.Vogrincic,
  106. (1984). The sociology of a text: Orality, literacy and print in early New Zealand’. The Library.
  107. (2009). the things I so indispensably needed’: Material objects as a reflection of Mary Shelley’s
  108. (1979). The triumph of art for the public: The emerging role of exhibitions and critics. New York: Anchor Books.Lee,
  109. (1998). The Victoria and Albert Museum: A bibliography and exhibition chronology,
  110. (1999). Tradition and translation: National culture in a global context.
  111. (1982). Unpacking my library: A talk about book collecting.
  112. (2003). Vegetal and mineral memory: the future of books’.
  113. (2002). What’s past is prologue”: The bibliographical society and history of the book.
  114. (2007). You can judge a person by their book covers.’ Guardian.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.