Art Museums, Research and Display

Art Museums, Research and Display

Session chairs:

Karin Sidén, Associate Professor, Director General Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, [email protected]

Anna Tellgren, Fil.dr/Ph.D., Curator of photography and Research leader, Moderna Museet, [email protected]


Artisanal Knowledge. An interdisciplinary approach

Linda Hinners, Fil.dr/Ph.D., Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, [email protected]

Linnéa Rollenhagen Tilly,  Fil.dr/Ph.D., Centre André Chastel, Paris, [email protected]

The writing and display of  art history has particularly emphasized on the development and spread of aesthetical aspects and theoretical ideas concerning the fine arts and  the  “genious” of the artist from the Renaissance and onwards. However it has often been ignored  that equally important and valued was the technical and artisanal skills mastered by craftsmen and specialized professionals. This practical knowledge was for a long time mainly practiced and transferred in the workshops. One reason for this ignorance is the negative view upon the guilds from the 18th century and onwards, which lead to the abandon of the guild system by the end of the 18th and during the 19th centuries. In academia this lead to a praxis where craft history was studied mainly in the field of social history and eventually within ethnology, whereas it was more or less ignored in the field of art history. Hence there is a lack of insight concerning practical transfer of knowledge (masters to apprentice) and about the change from guilds to specialized state schools at the turning of the 1800’s.  However during the last decades there is a growing field of research within economic history, history of ideas and history concerning guilds and women’s craft (Wiesner 2000; Crossick 1997; Lindström 1991, 2011: 179–209) and transfer of technical knowledge  (Fors 2003, 2007: 165–198; Nyberg 1992, 2001). This paper will discuss the necessity of  interdisciplinary approaches between art and architectural history practiced at the universities and in art museums with for example history of ideas, history of science and economic history when dealing with questions concerning  production, transfer and transformation/adaptation of artisanal knowledge. The paper will give examples from planned projects and previous research experiences.



“Boatology” or New Critical Stories? The Exhibition Practices at the Maritime Museum in Bergen, Norway

Sigrid Lien, Dr.Art. Professor, University of Bergen, Norway, [email protected]

The idea for this paper grew out of my recent involvement in the international research project PhotoClec, (founded by The European Science Foundations humanist strand, Hera, 2009–12). This project has studied how photography works in museums displays – with particular focus on how colonial past is (or not) used in the museum’s representations of the past. The colonial visual heritage do however encompass more than photographs. In this paper I will depart from one particular painting – which so far is unknown in the otherwise national celebratory narratives of the Norwegian history of art. It is a portrait, which not only represents an unhappy love story between a young Bergen merchant, and a coloured woman he brought with him home from St Croix by the end of the 18th Century. It also bears witness to local engagement in the colonial trade. It thus forms part of the histories that seem to be absent in the exhibition stories of maritime museums – where the genealogy of boats seem to be the most prominent visual feature. But can such maritime exhibition ever be something else than manifestations of hero worship, antiquarianism, and scholarship based on chronologies or expositions of arcana? Do they have potential to present other (cultural) stories – and to meet the demands raised by the new museology to raise critical question concerning their own story-telling and ideologies, ownership of the past, authority of speaking for others, who to include or exclude – and the mediation between individual memories and “History”? The paper will discuss such questions with particular focus on the exhibition practices of the maritime museum in Bergen.


41 years in permanent display: why don’t we change permanent museum exhibitions?

Sofia Lapa, Doctoral Student, IHA – FCSH, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, [email protected]

Which criteria justify that permanent exhibition displays are kept for decades? Should we give to someone who visits the permanent exhibition today exactly the same information that has been given to the ones that visited it forty years ago? In this paper I will focus on the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum. Created to keep 6 640 objects (F.C.G. 1983: 80) of a private collection donation, this small museum is an example of a good museum program as well as an unique architectural project in Portugal (Tostões 2006). Programmed, designed and built along thirteen years, the museum opened to the public the 4th of October 1969. Maintaining its permanent exhibition for thirty years, the Administration decided, in 1999, to close the Museum in order to remove some outdated equipment. When the galleries reopened, in July 2001, some changes had been made in the selection from the collection and in its display. But the essential of the 1960’s museological program was still there, characterized by a museography of silence (Lapa 2009: vol. 1, 33–46). Regarding what concerns the written and graphic communication related with the displayed museum objects, my subject will be discussed as an exercise of museological critique, based on five chosen objects of the Gulbenkian Museum permanent exhibition: an Egyptian sarcophagus for a cat (bronze, 664–525 BCE); an Inro (lacquer, circa 1800); two fragments of a Roger van der Weyden altarpiece; an exemplar of Opera. Librorum Francisci Petrarche Impressorum (Italian edition, 16th century); and a Jean d’Aire, Burgher of Calais by Rodin (bronze, after 1895).


Art exhibitions: Narratives and Meaning. Two projects conducted by the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Norway in collaboration with the National network of Art Museums and InterMedia, University of Oslo

Birgitte Sauge, Dr.Art., National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Norway, [email protected]

Anne Qvale, Cand.Phil., National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Norway, [email protected]

The paper presents two ongoing research projects conducted by The Norwegian National Museum: “A Comparative study of current Permanent Exhibitions in Norwegian Art and Design Museums” and “Munch and Multimodality”. The interest of the two projects lies in the exhibition, its content and its relation to the collection of the museum, and the architectural and didactic resources of the exhibition, all in relation to the curator’s intentions or the actual meaning making of the visitors. The projects are unique both in their focus on current, permanent art exhibitions, the way academia and museums collaborate and in the interaction between scholars from different fields. Rather than going into detail of the results of the projects, the paper focuses on their respective approaches, design and participants, in relation to the main results, literature on exhibitions (Aure, Illeris, Örtegren 2009; Bal 2007; Greenberg, Ferguson, Nairn 1996; Gade 2006; Klonk 2009; Troelsen 2005) and general scientific methods and understanding of knowledge production such as mode 1 and mode 2.

Case 1: “Comparative study of current permanent exhibitions in Norwegian Art Museums”

The comparative study of 17 current permanent exhibitions in Norwegian art museums (including design/arts & crafts exhibitions) is collaboration between 10 museums. The goal of the study is to gain understanding of art historical content, architectural structures and design, and didactic resources of the exhibitions. Is it possible to point out some dominating tendencies or discursive practices known from studies of historical exhibitions and practices?

Case 2: “Munch and Multimodality”

is part of the research project CONTACT (Communicating Organizations in Networks of Art and Cultural Heritage Technologies) conducted by InterMedia and supported by the National Research Council of Norway (2009–2013). Munch and Multimodality explores innovative ways of engaging young people in Edvard Munchs’s artworks on permanent display at the National Museum. Based on an understanding of text as comprising multiple modalities, the interdisciplinary team of curators, educators, researchers and technical staff of programmers and interaction designers are investigating the potential of digital representations, social media, and interaction design to support dialogue and a deeper understanding of Munch’s art.