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The Artist and the Museum: a Clash of Disciplinary Cultures?

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Dr. Alana Jelinek (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology) presents at the CRASSH Postdoctoral Research Seminar


Artists have been working in various non-art museums in important and ground-breaking ways since 1992 at least, when Fred Wilson installed ‘Mining the Museum’ at the Maryland Historical Society Museum, Baltimore. For the past decade it has been de rigueur in Britain for museums to host contemporary art, from the Natural History Museum to the British Museum as well as a wide range of smaller institutions. This in order 1) to enliven their collections, 2) as institutional critique, 3) as part of an outreach programme and 4) as an exercise in branding. From the point of view of the contemporary artist, this proliferation looks like a good thing – more art and more opportunities for art – and various exultant conferences attest this idea (for example, Arts Council England & British Museum conference, ‘Engaging the Artist’s Voice: Museums, galleries and artists working in collaboration’ 2012). This is also a good thing from the point of view of the government: today, to a considerable extent, museums’ public funding comes through the Arts Council. This talk will address some of the many assumptions built into the new relationship between contemporary art and the museum including the unacknowledged disciplinary mores and orthodoxies in operation at the heart of this trend.


This talk is part of the CRASSH series.

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