Analysing the Adjectival Museum: Exploring the bureaucratic nature of museums and the implications for researchers and the research process

Clive Gray, Vikki McCall


The proliferation of titles for types of museum has resulted in an adjectival explosion in recent years (with museums being engaging, relevant, professional, adaptive, community, national, universal, local, independent, people’s, children’s, scientific, natural history, labour, virtual, symbolic, connected, trust and charitable, amongst many other labels). This paper argues that the adoption of an organizational focus on bureaucratic features such as hierarchical authority, centralisation of power, functional specialisation and research processes can show commonalities in the understandings and challenges linked to museum function. The emphasis on museums as a specific institutional and organizational form allows for the identification and explanation of similarities and differences in their operational existence that extends beyond their particular individual natures. This also implies that the bureaucratic nature of museums has implications for researchers as they are organizations that reflect gender and power dynamics on a micro-level within the research process.


Bureaucracy; Adjectival Museums; Museums research; Analytical methods; Culture

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Copyright (c) 2018 Clive Gray, Vikki McCall

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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