Nature Museums

The chapter that resonated the most with me this week was chapter 8, “Southwestern Environments as Hyperreality: The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.” Luke brings up a valid and important point when he discusses the dangers of romanticized (or hyperreality) landscapes and how it can encourage the destruction of authentic nature. While Luke seems to think the very idea or attempt to preserve a natural landscape is ludicrous, I think it’s admirable. Perhaps I’m naive but I can’t imagine Arthur Park and William Carr set out for the result that the museum would perpetrate a false image of the Sonora Desert and thus result in widespread development and urban sprawl. Like last week, Luke’s dissection of this particular example, like a 3-2 zone in basketball, only made me want him to concede just a little and provide an example where this type of preservation was successful.

Going back to Park and Carr and the development of the museum, the fact that the museum was built in close respect to a park made me wonder if park politics were at play. Park management and administrators can sometimes wear “park goggles” (like tunnel vision) and can concentrate on issues they deem supremely  important e.g. picnic tables. It would have been interesting if this impeded the original vision Park and Carr had for the Desert Museum.

On a completely different note, I think Museum Politics as a whole could have greatly benefited from the use of photographs to supplement the text. In describing the Desert Museum and the Holocaust Museum it would have behooved Luke to include some visual evidence instead of relying solely on his unique turn of phrase.


2 thoughts on “Nature Museums”

  1. I definitely agree that the book would have benefitted from a few photographs. I found the book fascinating, but I was always getting onto my computer to look up websites and photos of the museums and displays he discussed. But maybe that was part of his goal.

  2. You’re absolutely right about the images being useful as evidence. (Plus, they would have helped chop up what many people have found to be a very dense text.) That said, it can be expensive to include images in a book–but a companion website might be a good idea, yes?

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