The role of contemporary art institutions in the 21st century can be divided broadly into two functions. One is the contemporary art institution as ‘laboratorium’, a place of experimentation and debate, with a focus on visual expression. The other is the contemporary art institution as a memory archive where art is sifter through and historicised. It is also important that the contemporary art institution exudes an energy that will attract large numbers of people, regardless of whether these people understand what is being attempted. It is a place where cells are continually regenerating, a healthy and thriving place that captivates even non-art fans and tourists.
The laboratorium function is underpinned by the contemporary art institution’s attraction as a place of encounters between different values and information, through which transformation takes place. The key factors for achieving this are how open the contemporary art institution remains to, and how it is perceived by, the outside world, how flexible it is in terms of access, and how receptive it is to external proposals. A contemporary art institution should not have a focus on cutting-edge debate by an
intellectual elite. Instead, it should be the sort of place that generates new designs for garbage bags or proposals for new ways of collecting garbage.
Chief Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and Professor of the Department of Art Science, Tama Art University
Yuko Hasegawa’s recent projects include Space for Your Future at MOT and Marlene Dumas – Broken White, also at MOT. She co-curated Media_City Seoul 2006, and The Encounter in the 21st Century: Polyphony – Emerging Resonances and Matthew Barney – Drawing Restraint, both at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. She was appointed Artistic Director of the 7th International Istanbul Biennial and Co-Curator of the 4th Shanghai Biennale. She is also Professor of the Department of Art Science at Tama Art University in Tokyo.
This paper will explore aspects of the phenomenon of the burgeoning interest in modern and contemporary art in the UK over the past couple of decades, coincident with the birth of the first national museum in England devoted entirely to this period, using Tate Modern as a reference. Focusing particularly on the role that the collection displays and turbine hall commissions have in providing different forms and accessible aspects of public art, as well as new forms of artistic practice, Wagstaff will propose some precepts for planning and designing an art museum in the 21st century.
Chief Curator of Tate Modern, London
Chief Curator at Tate Modern since 2001, Wagstaff initiates and leads an extensive programme of major exhibitions and turbine hall commissions, as well as personally curating shows, the most recent being Juan Munoz A retrospective which opened February 2008. Prior to joining Tate in 1998 as Head of Exhibitions & Collection Displays at Tate Britain (where she was responsible for planning the programme of exhibition and collection displays for the new museum), she was Director of Collections, Exhibitions and Education at the Frick Art Museum, Pittsburgh. Previously, she worked at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, and the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford.
Rethinking the Museum.
How to build contemporary museums for contemporary art…
Are museums merely repositories of objects, conserving them for the future, seemingly innocent of ideological or cultural bias, or should they have a more pro-active and aesthetic role?
I see contemporary art museums as the guardians and nurturers of the aesthetic freedoms that allow food contemporary art to be itself. They are an integral part of the fragile ecology of public values in art and culture which are able to estimate the cultural worth of objects because they are uncompromised by financial interest. Drawing on previous knowledge, building on research, they play an irreplaceable role in answering the question of why contemporary art is both necessary and beautiful, and dispel unreflective reductivism by celebrating the complexities and ambiguities of cultural experience.
Independent curator and writer, Rudolf Arnheim Guest Professor of Art History of Humboldt University, Berlin
David Elliot was the Director of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum between 2001 and 2006, a large privately-endowed museum devoted to contemporary – particularly Asian – art, architecture, and design. From 1976 to 1996, he was the Director of the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, and then the Director of Moderna Museet (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) in Stockholm, Sweden, from 1996 to 2001. For a brief time in 2007, he was Director of the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. From 1998 to 2004 he was President of CIMAM (the International Committee of ICOM for Museums of Modern and Contemporary Art).