'Contemporary Cultures of Display is the last of six books in the series Art and its Histories, which form the main texts of an Open University course...This volume explores some of the ways in which contemporary understanding of art and its histories is constructed and informed by public display in museums, galleries and other contexts. Among other issues, it considers the claim that the display of art is dominated today by a commercialized culture of "spectacle".
The book takes the form of a series of case students and is structured in three parts. The first part examines art's traditional sanctum, the museum, considering such issues as changing approaches to display in modern art museums and the ways in which museums have sought to make themselves accessible to new audiences. Examples include both recently founded museums (such as Musée d'Orsay in Paris) and older institutions (such as the National Gallery in London).
The second part focuses on temporary exhibitions, considering their implications not only for artists and spectators but also for the institutions that stage them. The case studies address exhibitions of contemporary art, the phenomenon of the "blockbuster" show, and recent developments in the display of African art.
The third part looks at the wider social context in which art is displayed today. The case studies consider the role of modern art museums in "urban regeneration" projects and the place of "heritage" in Britain, with special reference to the country house. The book concludes with an exploration of art and its institutions in contemporary Ireland.'
—from the back cover of the book