What is the future, and what is the past, of the African American Museum? In Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums: Black Renaissance (Routledge, 2019), Patricia Banks, an associate professor of sociology at Mount Holyoke College, explores the rise of the African American museum and its patrons and philanthropists. Combining sociology of culture with organisational and institutional analysis, the book offers both contemporary and historical analysis of some of the most important cultural institutions in America. Crucially, the book restates the importance of understanding race to sociology of culture, particularly in understanding elites. The book also reveals the changing nature of giving, with younger patrons expecting a different mode of engagement, as well as distinctive political and collecting practices. The book is essential reading across social science and humanities, as well as museum and arts professionals, and anyone interested in contemporary culture.
Dave O'Brien is Chancellor's Fellow, Cultural and Creative Industries, at the University of Edinburgh's College of Art.