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Extinct Monsters to Deep Time: Conflict, Compromise, and the Making of Smithsonian's Fossil Halls

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Series
Volume 11

Museums and Collections

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Extinct Monsters to Deep Time

Conflict, Compromise, and the Making of Smithsonian's Fossil Halls

Diana E. Marsh
Foreword by Jennifer Shannon

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334 pages, 54 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-122-2 25% OFF! $130.00/£92.00 $97.50/£69.00 Hb Published (February 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78920-123-9 eBook


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Reviews

“This book is an excellent contribution to our understanding of the history of the Smithsonian, of the representation of paleontology, of the changing dynamics of departments and disciplines over time, and of the shift in museums from an emphasis on research to public outreach. It is also an important contribution to the genre of museum ethnography.” • Jennifer Shannon, University of Colorado Boulder

2019 COUNCIL FOR MUSEUM ANTHROPOLOGY AWARD - HONOURABLE MENTION

Description

Extinct Monsters to Deep Time is an ethnography that documents the growing friction between the research and outreach functions of the museum in the 21st century. Marsh describes participant observation and historical research at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History as it prepared for its largest-ever exhibit renovation, Deep Time.  As a museum ethnography, the book provides a grounded perspective on the inner-workings of the world’s largest natural history museum and the social processes of communicating science to the public.

Diana E. Marsh is a research anthropologist and museum practitioner who studies how heritage institutions communicate with the public. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, where she is working to increase the accessibility of archival collections.

Subject: Museum Studies General Anthropology



Contents

List of Illustrations and Table

Foreward
Jennifer Shannon

Prologue: Fieldnotes from the Badlands

Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations

Chronology A: Lists of Relevant Leadership
Chronology B: Geologic Time Scale
Chronology C: Fossil Exhibits Timeline

Introduction

Chapter 1. Increase and Diffusion: Early Fossil Exhibits and a History of Institutional Culture
Chapter 2. Group Dynamics: Exhibit Meetings and Expertise
Chapter 3. Group Dynamics: The Roots of Team Frictions and Complementarities
Chapter 4. Content Development: Debates about Interconnected Processes and Static Things
Chapter 5. Content Development: The Roots of Interpretive Frictions and Complementarities
Chapter 6. Diffusion and Increase: Shifts in Institutional Culture from Modernization to Now
Chapter 7. Conclusion
Chapter 8. Coda: The Nation’s T-rex

Appendix A: Consent Form
Appendix B: Interview Questionnaires

Sample Team Interview Questionnaire
Sample Oral History Interview Questionnaire

Glossary
Bibliography
Index

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