Skip to main content

Museums and American Intellectual Life, 1876-1926

During the last half of the nineteenth century, many of the country’s most celebrated museums were built. In this original and daring study, Steven Conn argues that Americans, endowed with the belief that knowledge resided in objects themselves, built these institutions with the confidence that they could collect, organize, and display the sum of the world’s knowledge. Conn discovers how museums gave definition to different bodies of knowledge and how these various museums helped to shape America’s intellectual history.

"Conn is an enthusiastic advocate for his subject, an appealing thinker, an imaginative researcher, a scholar at ease with theory and with empirical evidence." —Ann Fabian, Reviews in American History

"Steven Conn’s masterly study of late-nineteenth century American museums transports the reader to a strange and wonderful intellectual universe. . . . At the end of the day, Conn reminds us, objects still have the power to fascinate, attract, evoke, and, in the right context, explain." —Christopher Clarke-Hazlett, Journal of American History

314 pages | 27 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1998

Culture Studies

History: American History, History of Ideas

Table of Contents

1: Museums and the Late Victorian World
2: "Naked Eye Science": Museums and Natural History
3: Between Science and Art: Museums and the Development of Anthropology
4: The Philadelphia Commercial Museum: A Museum to Conquer the World
5: Objects and American History: The Museums of Henry Mercer and Henry Ford
6: From South Kensington to the Louvre: Art Museums and the Creation of Fine Art
7: 1926: Of Fairs, Museums, and History

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press