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Revisiting Museums of Influence. Four decades of innovation and public quality in european museums (Routledge, 2021)

Revisiting Museums of Influence presents 50 portraits of a range of European museums that have made striking innovations in public quality over the past forty years. In so doing, the book demonstrates that excellence can be found in museums no matter their subject matter, scale, or source of funding.

Written by leading professionals in the field of museology, who have acted as judges for the European Museum of the Year Award, the portraits describe museums that had, or should have had, an influence on other museums around the world. The portraits aim to capture the moment when this potential was identified, and the introduction will locate the institutions in the wider history of museums in Europe over the period, as well as drawing out common themes of change and innovation that unite the portraits.

Providing many very diverse portraits, Revisiting Museums of Influence captures the immense capacity of the museum to respond to changing societal needs. As a result, the book will be essential reading for students of museology and museum professionals around the world in shaping the museums they wish to create. Scholars and students of art history, archaeology, ethnography, anthropology, cultural and visual studies, architecture, memory studies and history will also find much to interest them.


Copies of the book are available for purchase at Routledge. Routledge have a sale on which offers a 30% discount with the discount code RMI230 which will remain active until the end of the year (2021).

Review Copies

For journals wishing to review the book, please follow this link and see the Media Release.

Museology Teaching

Lecturers who wish to use this book in their teaching, can request an inspection copy here.

Preview Version

A pdf preview of the book is available at this link.

EMYA book launch: Revisiting Museums of Influence

On Thursday, 18 March 2021, we organised an online session to launch the EMYA book: Revisiting Museums of Influence. Four Decades of Innovation and Public Quality in European Museums, Routledge, 2021. In this session, Sharon Heal, Director, Museum Association and Trustee of EMF Board had a conversation with the three co-editors of the book: Mark O'Neill, Jette Sandahl and Marlen MouliouTogether, they discussed the manifold layers of insight offered by this EMF publication and the European museums portrayed in it.

The European Museum of the Year Award 2018: innovation in practice

The ‘Europe’ in the European Museum of the Year Award is defined by membership of the Council of Europe, which comprises 47 countries, from Iceland to Azerbaijan. The annual conference, which precedes the Awards Ceremony, provides the best opportunity for professionals to see a wide range of the most innovative practices in museums across the continent.

In 2018 there were 40 candidate museums from 22 countries, with entries from Andorra to Turkey and from Finland to Portugal – as well as from Azerbaijan. There were museums in traditional genres – art, archaeology, science and natural history - as well as museum firsts, like the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo. There were large national museums and art galleries, university museums and city museums, along with tiny museums devoted to very local communities. The purpose of the EMYA annual conference is to enable all candidates to express the essence of their museum, and how it relates to EMYA criteria - how a museum attracts audiences and satisfies its visitors with a unique atmosphere, imaginative interpretation and presentation, and a creative approach to education and social responsibility. How underlying values - democracy, human rights, tolerance and inter-cultural dialogue and sustainability - are realised in practice is also important.

The traditional format, dating back to the founding of EMYA in 1977, was for each museum to give a short presentation, followed by an interview, to tease out more of what the museum’s innovations have been. This format, with 40 museums following one after the other, can be difficult for the audience, so we decided to experiment with a thematic approach. This involved organising panels on subjects which still enabled the museums to articulate their special quality, but also to take part in a discussion about the wider implications of their work. Some themes – City Museums, Transport Museums, Museums and Archaeology – were relatively traditional, and reflected the specialism involved. Others – such as Storytelling in Museums and Museums & Communities – were about the museums’ approach, and many candidates could have taken part. The huge variety of museums however made grouping some museums more difficult, but the result produced interesting juxtapositions. Museums, Art Galleries & National Identity brought together the National Galleries of Ireland and Latvia with the Estonian National Museum and the Azerbaijan Carpet Museum. Museums & Politics grouped the War Childhood Museum with The Lenin Museum in Finland, the Museum of Silesian Uprisings in Świętochłowice, Poland and the Hospital in the Rock, Nuclear Bunker Museum, Hungary. And the Science Museum London, the Money Museum in Frankfurt and the Food Museum in Switzerland discussed Museums & Big Ideas.

In addition to the Candidate panels, there was a panel of previous winners of the Council of Europe Museum prize, an inspiring keynote by David Anderson, EMF Trustee and Director of the National Museum of Wales, and six interactive workshops led by museums which had previously won awards. These enrichments mean that for anyone who is planning to refurbish an existing or to create a new museum, or who just wants to see the best in contemporary museums, EMYA is an essential event.

by Mark O'Neill, 11.06.2018

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