Monday, March 31, 2008

The Museum Book by Jan Mark, Illustrated by Richard Holland

The story of museums begins with a small girl who runs into a mysterious building to shelter from the rain....

What are all these strange things? How are they related? Why are they here? Marks explains the history of museums in a series of short chapters and aong the way, she talks about the Greek muses, the evolution of human knowledge, medieval Christianity, Russian history, architecture, and current controversies in the the ownership of antiquities.

This book is very like the museum of the opening piece - a collection of fascinating pieces packed together in one place. The illustrations follow this pattern, including both print and collage, sometimes humorous, sometimes technical.

One could quibble with the ending paean to memory, "But there is another kind of collection that everyone has, including you. It is in your head. Everything you have ever seen, heard, smelled, tasted, or touched is in there....You can get it out and have an exhibition whenever you want". If you've ever lost your keys or had a pop quiz, you know memory is not so simple!

However, it's a fascinating look at museums, history, knowledge, and the way humans think.

Verdict: An interesting and unusual book, this will need some special booktalking - and specific children and parents - to find an audience. An additional purchase.

ISBN: 0763633704; Published September 2007 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library

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