n De Arte - Mounting Queen Victoria : curating cultural change in South Africa, Steven C. Dubin : book reviews

Volume 2010, Issue 81
  • ISSN : 0004-3389
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Steven Dubin opens his Acknowledgements at the beginning of with an anecdote about a retired South African curator who was surprised to discover that Dubin was white, not black, when he arrived for an interview because, in the curator's words : 'You said on the phone that you were interested in talking about the "transformation" of museums in this country. I assumed that if you were white, you would have referred to the "deterioration" of museums' (p. xiii). The anecdote tells us much of what to expect from the book, regarding both the vast divergence of views about South African museums and the author's approach to the subject. Dubin is not nervous about grasping nettles (even the most prickly racial ones) and he relies a great deal on interviews (and does not refrain from recounting some of his subjects' more unguarded statements). The result is a highly readable account that exposes the cultural 'underbelly' of South African museum lore and is, like a good novel, hard to put down.

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