"Letting Go?" in Museum Magazine, Curator: The Museum Journal, and More

17 Aug 2012


Detail from cover of Letting Go? Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, published by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in 2011.

The Center's publication, Letting Go? Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, edited by Bill Adair, Benjamin Filene, and Laura Koloski, received media attention from Museum magazine, Curator: The Museum Journal, and George Mason University's History News Network upon its release.

Museum magazine wrote that "the case studies in Letting Go? provide detailed and illuminating examples of how historians, curators, or other museum professionals have been making progress in sharing authority. The experts, too, have their blind spots—which helps explain the question mark, judiciously placed in the book's title."

Curator: The Museum Journal asked, "Who would dare claim the authority to review a book about the end of authority?" The article's reflections on the book stayed in keeping with its essence, inviting readers to contribute to the chain of authority from which it began. In 2011, the author of the article tasked his students with compressing the content in the book and the discussions around it into a communally developed Wikipedia page. The hurdles they faced were similar to the ones featured in Letting Go?. Museum professionals worried that the democratization around the creation of content was sacrificing the aesthetics inherent in an institution's interpretation of an event or object. However, the ways in which each museum and person was able to move beyond these concerns was ultimately the strength of the results. Read more >

In response to the publication, George Mason University's History News Network agreed that "it's time to explore how public history practice is wrestling with questions of shifting authority in each of these realms—the Web, community-based programming, oral history, contemporary art." Read more >

To order your copy, visit the Left Coast Press website or Amazon.com.