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Transformative BeautyArt Museums in Industrial Britain$
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Amy Woodson-Boulton

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804778046

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804778046.001.0001

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A New Narrative

A New Narrative

From Experience to Appreciation

(p.148) 5 A New Narrative
Transformative Beauty
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines how new ideas in the early twentieth century gradually transformed the museums, as a new generation of directors and city councils reconceived of the collections as primarily existing to educate citizens about art rather than to provide an antidote to industrial ugliness. Art museums have been public institutions that presented class-based leisure and that made educational resources potentially open to all citizens. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Walker Art Gallery, and Manchester City Art Gallery began to attract larger audiences. In all three museums, the new ideas about art and about the purpose of the museum gradually resulted in radical shifts in policy. Many Victorian ideas about art, nature, and beauty continue to determine policy and even everyday lives, even if the underlying natural theology or Ruskinian reasoning has been lost.

Keywords:   Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Walker Art Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery, Liverpool, nature, beauty, policy, art museums

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