Museology offers a rich visual experience, as well as a thought-provoking and insightful– and frequently hilarious– look at the modern mania for collecting, preserving, and displaying objects of all sorts, from stuffed animals to priceless painting. In Ross’s droll wiew, museums can be seen as modern temples of knowledge– or old fashion cabinets of curiosities.
With an introduction by Marcia Tucker and an essay by David Mellor
Published in 1990 by Aperture Press
“In these color photographs of art and natural history museums and their holdings, Ross, who teaches at UC Santa Barbara, wields considerable wit in constructing images of the institutions as we don’t usually see them. In some cases, an animal’s spirit is shown to have survived the taxidermist’s art, flouting the authority of the knife (the face of a stuffed rhinoceros peers skeptically through glass, as though once again regnant). Elsewhere, held in suspended animation, victims in display cases seem sustained only by artifice, creating illusions of a perfectly orderly, hierarchical nature brought home to roost. In pure fun, Ross portrays a classical nude sculpture appearing to take cover from onlookers in a museum corner, and offers a delightful closeup of stuffed lions engaged in ferociously kitsch battle. But his thoughtful book, an exhibition catalogue, does more than amuse; it leaves readers with disquieting thoughts of predator and prey in museums and culture at large.”
- From Publishers Weekly, Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“Ross has swiped the term ‘Museology’ from self-important museum people and given it a shot of irony. His pictures are the ‘ology.’ like anthroppology and archaeology, they portray curious customs and layers of time. In his museum, where everyone has gone home, he finds unintended poetry in the most desolate corners.”
- John Walsh, Director, The J. Paul Getty Museum