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Environment and History

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Environment and History

Coping with the Past: Patrick Geddes, Lewis Mumford and the Regional Museum

John L. Thomas

Environment and History 3(1997): 97-116

The pioneer urban and environmental planner, Patrick Geddes, and his American disciple, Lewis Mumford, dismissed the monumental art museum as an outsized emblem of the garrison state, corporate consolidation, and imperial ambition. In its place they proposed the scaled regional museum serving citizens as a 'civic gallery', and teaching them about their history with its roots in the environment. That environment took the shape of the valley section, a middle-ground home to the folk and a bedrock of 'enduring factors' lying deep in their 'vital past'. Geddes and Mumford's legacy at the end of the 20th century is thus one of regional reconstruction, historic preservation, and heightened environmental awareness.


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