Tuesday, November 01, 2016

A Discussion about Museums in a Global Age

'Museums in a Global Age' is a LONG video organised by Art Review ostensibly about:

  • How do museums engage with and reflect the world they inhabit? 
  • What are their roles and responsibilities?

It's a very fast discussion about the purpose and future of museums in what's called "a global age". (Which prompts the thought have we ever not had "a global age"? It strikes me as a clumsy metaphor for a more precise concept relating to cultural communication).  They seem to mean in an age where "globalisation" is the norm i.e. money, people, ideas, whizzing around the world faster and faster.

There are all sorts of problems with this video.
  • the participants are sitting in semi-darkness in front of a projection which never changes. Absolutely ludicrous!
  • Nobody actually uses the projector for slides to expand on and exemplify points being made. So why is it there?
  • It seems as if there's a competition for who can say the most in the least time. Gabbling seems to be the order of the day - which is not wonderful when people are racing through lists of complex concepts in the absence of any powerpoint slides which provide a handle for engaging your brain cells and organising the rapid fire dialogue
  • I recommend some training in podcasting!
However it is worth listening to! I found it works better if you listen twice!

This discussion took place last month on 17th October - just before the Frieze Art Fair - at the Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building at the London School of Economics


Left to right in the picture above, we have:

Richard Armstrong - the representative of "Institutions"

  • Director of the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum and Foundation since November 2008
  • Previously, The Henry J. Heinz II Director of Carnegie Museum of Art. He also served as Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art. 
  • Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1981 to 1992) where he organized four Biennials, as well as several other exhibitions.
  • Works with senior staff to maximize all aspects of the Foundation’s operations: permanent collections, exhibition programs, acquisitions, documentation, scholarship, and conservation. 

Chair: JJ Charlesworth - an art critic, writer and commentator

  • Publisher of Art Review (a leading contemporary art magazine which maintains the Power 100 list) - having worked as a member of the Editorial Staff since 2006
  • Studied fine art at Goldsmiths College, London, in the mid-1990s before becoming a critic
  • Written reviews and commentaries on art, artists, culture and politics for many publications including ArtReview, Art Monthly, Flash Art, Modern Painters, Time Out London, the Daily Telegraph and online platforms art-agenda and ArtNet News. 
  • completed his PhD (a study of art criticism in Britain during the 1970s) in 2016
  • @jjcharlesworth

Adrian Ellis - a consultant who works for the Institutions and helps plan new ones

  • Founding Director of AEA Consulting, one of the world's leading arts, culture and entertainment consulting firms. 
  • His work spans the fields of cultural strategy, policy, and economics. 
  • Previously Executive Director of The Conran Foundation in London, where he planned and managed the creation of the Design Museum.
  • Former LSE student.
Comments on political and moral dilemmas relating to:
  • the scale of phenomenal investment in capital infrastructure in museum buildings by public and philanthropic resources 
  • why museums need to stimulate demand to consume that investment.
  • the commodification of cities around the world, the use of culture to differentiate a city - and how badly this is done
  • how many buildings get designed by how few architects
  • how many important factors relating to the development of museums are ignored until a relatively late stage
  • issues which occupy minds relate to how to balance the books not why a museum was built - because funding is often available for capital but not for revenue.
Speculates about what happens if globalisation goes into reverse - which is actually an issue I've begun to become more interested in as 'globalisation' becomes more and more identified with the ways in which it has had a destructive effect on economies and cultures.

Tiffany Jenkins - a writer who comments on museums as an academic, broadcaster and columnist

Interested in the politicisation of culture

  • how fine arts were seen as being a means for soothing the common man in the past - and what's different between then and now and the role of art in social inclusion
  • the dissipation of the hierarchy of art.
  • the unravelling of the canon of high art.

Did you know?

You can attend free public lectures and debates at the LSE with high profile speakers from academia, politics, business and civil society. Click the link for what's planned or follow Twitter's @LSEnews for the official feed.