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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The internal dynamics of the community museum Vallance, Julie Anne


The following paper is an attempt to explore the internal dynamics of small community museums. This exploration takes the form of two case studies in which the various points of view of staff and volunteers are presented. The results point to the emergence of two distinct and generally conflicting orientations on the part of individuals in both museums. These orientations are identified respectively as service to the community, on one hand, and as a concern with standardization and control or professionalism, on the other. The second focus of the paper deals with some of the recent reports concerning evaluation of training programs as well as future directions for community museums, as perceived by organizations such as the British Columbia Museums Association, the Canadian Museums Association, and the National Museums of Canada. What emerges from the examination of this literature is the growing preoccupation on the part of these organizations with the creation of a museum profession. It becomes clear that those who espouse this notion of professionalism demonstrate the same preoccupation with control and standardization as do the "professionally-oriented" individuals in the two case studies presented. Finally, three alternative futures for community museums are presented. The first one envisions the complete professionalization of the small museum and the loss of its community service orientation. The second future shows the two orientations continuing in conflict, in some instances providing a creative dynamic. The third possible future is one in which all of the organizations and individuals involved recognize and take steps to preserve the unique nature of the community museum through astute training programs and support mechanisms, while allowing for the limited and appropriate use of professional methods and standards.

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