The second part of the book contains texts by Alexander Dorner written after his arrival in the USA. "My Experiences in the Hanover Museum (What Can Art Museums Do Today?)" from 1938 is followed by a 64-page unpublished manuscript from 1941 "Why have art museums?" The two texts provide a comprehensive insight into Dorner's original concept of atmosphere rooms. Chapter 5, "The Way Beyond Museums" by Sarah Ganz Blythe, introduces these texts, providing historical and cultural background, which brings out their importance for European and US museological practice, particularly educational practice.
As Rebecca Uchill, a leading scholar of Dorner's oeuvre in the English-speaking literature, has pointed out, contemporary scholarship, interested primarily in the innovative and abstract concepts of international modernism epitomized by the works of El Lissitzky and László Moholy-Nagy, has tended to disregard the coherent "architectural and interpretive framing apparatuses of Dorner's curatorial container." 
The starting point for Dorner is the regrettable detachment of museums from the needs of life. In the well-documented essays published in Why Art Museums?
he outlines a line of thought that combines art history with museum display, describing the function of a museum with a collection of historical art and how such a collection should be displayed in modern surroundings. For Dorner, contemporary art has no need of explanation as it directly refers to contemporary life and ideas. His concern is with the art of the past, and he traces the emergence of historical styles, first in Winckelmann's works on Greek style (p. 215), then in the context of the Gothic revival and in artistic spheres up to his own time. The problem, which Dorner identified, was that art museums perceived and taught appreciation of all these styles from an imagined perspective of "the eternal laws of beauty", with total disregard for the temporal aspect (p. 215). This approach, he believed, had been cemented by Formalism, based on the autonomy of individual perception and empathy (Dorner calls this "Romanticism", p. 152). He credits Aloïs Riegl as the first to overcome this idealist, timeless evolution of art history by attributing time-bound features to each epoch in his work Late Roman Art Industry
(1901). This new, time-aware art historical approach had been further elaborated by Dorner's classmate Erwin Panofsky, who analyzed perspective-related aspects of art historical development, as well as Aby Warburg with the Mnemosyne Atlas
(1924 — 1929) and his search for "how specific motives emerged in ancient Greece and persisted through to Weimar Germany" (p. 118). Dorner valued these studies for their keen sense of temporal distance and the autonomy of each cultural epoch, which must be made visible and recognizable in a museum display.