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After the Napoleonic Wars many new societies were formed. Many constructed purpose-designed museums, and, as a result, were important pioneers of the museum movement. Others shared facilities with other organizations, including libraries and theatres. Objects were usually donated. Local people and those who had travelled abroad would make donations.

Argentina would have been an almost limitless resource as far as museums were concerned. The proto-museums developing in America during the eighteenth century were also of the cabinet of curiosities type. An example of such a proto- museum was the Charleston Museum in South Carolina established during the s. The pattern of real museum growth in the US was the opposite of that in Europe. In the US public museums existed years before the great private collections which, in Europe, were the primogenitors of museums. However, the processes of modernization, industrialization, urbanization and empire- building brought a vast new populace into increased contact with the developing political, economic and cultural networks which were a part of modernity.

Such dramatic developments required the expansion of public institutions which could impart a feeling of belonging to, and knowledge of, the modern world. Therefore, the emergence of the modern museum can not be considered without a discussion of the economic contexts within which it developed.


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Industrialization The development of the public museum should be seen as the consequence of a number of interrelated factors, including the modern idea of progress and the emerging historical disciplines. But just as important was the impact of industrialization, urbanization and the consequent development of local government and social education programmes. While the ideas of progress, linear time and history developed, so did the fabric of the societies in which these ideas emerged. It is difficult to say which came first, the idea of progress and scientific rationality, or the processes of industrialization which fundamentally transformed the way most people lived and thought.

There is no doubt though, that in order for the processes of industrialization to be successful, a foundation of rational and scientific thought was necessary. Before the Industrial Revolution, many communities were probably more firmly rooted in their own localities. These communities, whether they were in mercantile centres, villages, or market towns, would probably have possessed a sense of place, or rootedness, to a much greater extent than many people have had since the middle of the nineteenth century; many generations had lived in the same place.

The developments in Enlightenment thinking went hand in hand with the processes of the Industrial Revolution; the latter itself emerged partly as a result of the scientific advances made by Enlightenment thinkers, which in turn influenced modern thought itself. The confidence that emerged out of Enlightenment thought, and the perceived success of industrial capital, combined to create a conception of a society that potentially knew no bounds. Factory work imposed a rigid awareness of and adherence to time.

The Past in Contemporary Society: Then, Now - CRC Press Book

All of these experiences combined to impose a different spatial-temporal awareness, an awareness which contributed to the loss of a sense of place, a loss which we shall be concerned with more extensively in subsequent chapters. The Industrial Revolution, with its roots in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, had its most profound effects on nineteenth-century Britain. Brief comparisons of industrial production between and illustrate this point.

In Britain was producing 0.

The Past in Contemporary Society: Then, Now (Heritage: Care-preservation-management)

Coal output in was c. Between these two dates the population of England and Wales increased from Urbanization was of course the most important consequence of industrialization and population increase. The greatest movement to the urban centres took place during the s. By the s the size of the urban population was greater than that of the rural, and by the s the ratio of urban to rural dwellers was ibid.

By twice as many people lived in urban areas than rural. The processes of modernization were mirrored in most Western nations, most importantly in the United States of America. It is in part for this reason that a brief description of North American modernization is necessary. The US experienced industrialization, and its consequences, some years after Britain.

The census revealed the fact that five out of every six Americans still lived in rural areas, although it was apparent by this date that a shift away from agriculture was emerging Degler During the fifty years leading up to World War I the population of the United States tripled, and the number employed in industry increased by about per cent ibid. During the middle of the nineteenth century, despite being a predominantly rural nation, the US was greatly influenced by industrialization and experienced modernization to the same extent as European nations.

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By the first electric telegraph had been set up between Baltimore and Washington, and by 31, miles of railway had been laid. By this figure had increased to , Brogan —9. After the Civil War, the light bulb, the telephone and the phonograph were available thanks to the technical ingenuity of Americans. There is no doubt that the industry had a much greater influence on life in the east than in the west of the US. It is for this reason that we should not be surprised to find that early developments in American museums occurred in the east. As with other industrializing nations, the population of the US expanded greatly during the nineteenth century: between the years and the population increased from 31 million to 63 million.

Simple arithmetic reveals that the increase was in the order of a million per annum. This increase in population was matched by the increase in the size of the markets and the increases in consumer spending. It was during this period that the highly successful mail-order firms emerged such as Montgomery-Ward and Sears Roebuck ibid.

The other factor that contributed to the transformation of the United States was immigration. At the height of nineteenth-century immigration in , , arrivals were recorded.

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However, this was not the overall peak: during the s roughly a million immigrants per year were entering the US. In fact, during the period between and the total figure for immigration to the US stood at 38 million Degler Some may prefer to call it racism or xenophobia. In less than 13 per cent of Americans lived in urban areas.

By over half of the US population was living in cities, by this figure was 60 per cent and by it was closer to 75 per cent Degler The period of greatest urban expansion was between and ; for example during the decade between and the increase in urban population was Many of the reasons for such a need have been articulated elsewhere, most notably by David Lowenthal in The Past is a Foreign Country Lowenthal esp. Local self-government The processes of industrialization along with concomitant experiences of urbanization led to the need for a new form of local government: a tier of government which could take on the responsibility for the provision of a wide range of services that were essential to the successful running of an urban place.

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In Britain during the s, there was a developing awareness of the need to deal with the problems of urbanization. During the s and s the newly developing towns and cities of Britain began to involve themselves in efforts to improve conditions in their localities, and thus, possibly the proudest period of British local government emerged. The mid- to late Victorian period saw local government probably at its most influential, certainly more so than during the s. Victorian civic pride manifested itself in various ways, the most obvious being the construction of splendid town-halls, such as in Birmingham and Manchester, both begun in Local government became responsible for almost all of the amenities necessary for the managing of urban areas, from sanitation to leisure.

The effect of local authorities on the everyday lives of the Victorians should not be understated. Despite the often disorganized nature of early Victorian local government, with each area of responsibility devolved to separate local institutions, museums and libraries did begin to appear in many larger towns. This was partly due to the efforts of William Ewart, a Liberal MP who urged the development of public libraries and museums. Thanks to Ewart the Museums Act became law in and permitted the various philosophical societies to transfer their collections to public bodies.

Best —2 The squalor and appalling lifestyles of the industrial working class continued throughout the century, but to a certain extent the quality of life was improved due to the efforts made by the many people who believed in local government. Attempts were made not only to improve the material living conditions of people, but also to develop and enhance recreational and educational facilities.

There does not seem to have been the same emphasis on the provision of cultural or recreation services, such as parks, libraries and museums. One notable exception was New York, where nearly 20 per cent of the land was parkland. Recreation as with many aspects of American life was in the main provided by the private sector. The experiences of modernity, especially for the urban dweller, are experiences influenced by processes which have been increasingly removed from the local.

These range from economic processes, to the provision of services. Distancing has been a fundamental experience of modernity. Part of this distancing has been the institutionalization of many of the services that modern societies rely upon. This is as true of the car mechanic as it is of the museum curator.

However, an all-consuming rationalization does not necessarily imply a de- differentiation, or an homogenization of modern societies, where all services—cultural, education, and professional services such as legal and financial advice—are concentrated in the hands of one faceless organization. In fact modernity has witnessed the opposite process. Rather than one homogenizing faceless organization controlling modern societies, all forms of service have been monopolized by many different expert groups, who in their own way deny the wider public access to much information and knowledge.

This practice effectively works as an ideological tool.