public collections

Museum Skepticism: A History of the Display of Art in Public Galleries

Author(s)  
Carrier, David
Publisher  
Duke University Press
2006

In Museum Skepticism, David Carrier explores both the development and what he argues to be the decline of the public art museum as a democratic institution. Carrier shows that by studying the history of museums and collecting we can understand the transformative point at which the art museum has now arrived; the public art museum has to reinvent itself in order to stay relevant to contemporary life and by extension to its visitors. Carrier argues that this reinvention should be inspired by popular or mass culture, as this is what nowadays attracts and interests the majority of people.

By looking at key figures in various fields of the museum world, such as collectors, curators and museum architects, Carrier shows that the public museum is something to be interpreted and studied instead of simply being taken as a container for high art. The book includes several case studies of important figures in the history of collection and display - such as Baron Dominique vivant Denon, the 1st director of the Louvre, Bernard Berenson who was Isabella Gardner’s art adviser and helped her to establish her collection and Richard Meier, the architect of the J. Paul Getty Museum - which show that all these various roles within the art world have had a tremendous impact on how museums and collections have developed, and how we currently view the art museum and its need for transformation.

Liesbeth Visee

New Collecting: Exhibiting and Audiences after New Media Art

Author(s)  
Graham, Beryl
Editor(s)  
Graham, Beryl
Publisher  
Surrey: Ashgate
2014

Comprised of ten essays, New Collecting addresses many of the issues and opportunities raised by the collection of ‘new media art’ with a particular emphasis on computer and internet- based artwork. This type of art demands not only a revision of a museum’s collecting procedure but a reevaluation of what it means to collect. Such a situation is not without precedent. Several of the articles allude to instances in art history that have demanded a similar reevaluation of institutional procedures. Of course, the issues raised specifically by computer-based art are constantly evolving in tandem with technology, thus denying the implementation of a uniform collecting procedure. However, at a more general level, a two-tiered approach which includes both a physical collection and a digital archive has proven to be an effective model for accommodating the specific demands and risks of technologically-engaged new media art. This type of collecting both limits the risk associated with collecting new media art for the institution and preserves the integrity of the art which often considers democratic access to be an essential component. New Collecting demonstrates how expanding the role of the museum from a purely “collecting institution” to that of a “circulating institution” allows the museum to evolve in conjunction with the art it collects to better suit the needs of a 21st century audience.

Paige Hirschey

Saving Art for the Nation: 2003 Centenary Conference of the National Art Collections Fund

Author(s)  
Art Fund
Publisher  
London, NACF
2004

‘Saving Art for the Nation’ is a compilation of addresses, discussions and case studies from the 2003 Centenary Conference of the National Art Collections Fund; contributing voices include Sir Nicolas Serota (Tate London), Sir Timothy Clifford (National Galleries Scotland), Dr David Fleming (National Museum Liverpool) and a variety of museum professionals and interested parties. The most significant concern of the conference was to instigate ongoing collecting, after all, ‘a closed collection is a dead collection,’ especially focusing on the acquisition of contemporary art and international art—a weak point among many of the national collections. In fact, a growing appreciation for ‘global culture’ is present among many of the conference addresses. This is evidenced not only by relaxing attempts to keep pieces of heritage within the UK but also encouraging its display in other parts of the world and in new contexts. The conference also considered the vestiges of patriotism and heritage that surrounds national collections and encouraged institutions to challenge complacent notions of ‘Britishness’. These sentiments ultimately shifted the institutional responsibility towards its public audience and the ways that a collection should express the identity of a community.

Shelby Lakins

What’s Next? 100 Years of the Contemporary Art Society: Inside Public Collections

Author(s)  
Multiple
Editor(s)  
Byatt, Lucy
Troy, Charlotte
Publisher  
London: Contemporary Art Society
2011

‘What’s Next?’ capitalises on the centenary moment of the Contemporary Art Society as a chance to reflect on its productive history of patronising public art collections but also as impetus to adapt and consider better practice for the future. The CAS exists to raise funds to purchase art for public collections and has done so since 1910. A reflection by the two directors highlights the importance of their audience to this activity, this audience who supports the collections via donations, bequests, friends groups and societies. A sample of this audience is featured in a conversation about the current challenges and ambitions facing them as supporters of fine arts in today’s economy where a global recession and cutbacks to national spending have curbed the growth of the UK’s national collections. ‘What’s Next?’ summarises the yearlong programme of centenary activity throughout their member institutions, outlines their Centenary Fellowship Programme, and displays images and conversations from artists included in their anniversary year activity. Arising from the conversations and essays in this text is the ambition to improve networks between patrons, curators and artists. Director Lucy Byatt speaks of the reliance of these national collections on relationships, and through them the possibility of encouraging the development of curatorial knowledge.

Shelby Lakins

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