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The Museum of Mankind
Man and Boy in the British Museum Ethnography Department
172 pages, 30 illus., bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78920-302-8 $120.00/£89.00 Hb Published (August 2019)
eISBN 978-1-78920-303-5 eBook
The Museum of Mankind was an innovative and popular showcase for minority cultures from around the non-Western world from 1970 to 1997. This memoir is a critical appreciation of its achievements in the various roles of a national museum, of the personalities of its staff and of the issues raised in the representation of exotic cultures. Issues of changing museum theory and practice are raised in a detailed case-study that also focuses on the social life of the museum community. This is the first history of a remarkable museum and a memorable interlude in the long history of one of the world’s oldest and greatest museums. Although not presented as an academic study, it should be useful for museum and cultural studies as a well as a wider readership interested in the British Museum.
Ben Burt is the longest serving member of staff of the British Museum, having joined in 1968 before graduating in anthropology and returning as Education Officer at the Museum of Mankind from 1974 until it closed in 1997. Building upon his concurrent research in Solomon Islands, published in numbers of books and articles, he moved into academic teaching and curatorial work as the Museum of Mankind was reincorporated into the British Museum in the 2000s. He is now a partly retired curator in the Oceania section of the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas.