August 23, 2008

Lectures on the Encyclopaedic Museum

Posted at 2:05 pm in British Museum, Events, Similar cases

James Cuno, Neil MacGregor, Phillipe De Montebello & Thomas Gaehtgens represent the astonishingly one sided collection of speakers lecturing in Chicago on the concept formerly known as the Universal Museum. (details of each lecture follow the main article).

From:
Chicago Art Institute

NEWS: The Art Institute of Chicago Presents: 360 Degrees: Art beyond Borders
22 Aug 2008

The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

27 September 2008–16 June 2009

[...]

Join us for a wealth of insightful and exciting 360 Degrees programming.

# Lectures: Four engaging lecture series occur throughout the season. In “The Fate of Encyclopedic Museums,” directors from the Art Institute, the Getty, the British Museum, and the Met discuss the role of the encyclopedic museum. Noted scholars also explore current and historical perspectives on globalization and Art Institute curators give their take on the encyclopedic nature of their collections.

In addition to these series, 360 Degrees lectures probe topics as varied as Chicago as a global city, the universal significance of Abraham Lincoln, and the world-renowned artist Edvard Munch.

[...]

From:
Chicago Art Institute

Season Preview—The Promise of Encyclopedic Museums
9/25, 6-7 p.m. Fullerton Hall
360 Degrees: Art beyond Borders

From their origin in the 18th century, encyclopedic museums—those with collections representative of the world’s diverse artistic legacy—have been dedicated to the proposition that museums serve society as a force for understanding, tolerance, and the dissolution of ignorance and superstition about the world. Today, in our age of globalization, when 3% of the world’s population, or nearly 200 million people, live outside the country of their birth, encyclopedic museums play an especially important role in the building of civil society. They encourage curiousity about the world. And as so much of the world is represented in our great cities—in Chicago, 26 ethnic communities have over 25,000 members each, and over 100 languages are spoken here—encyclopedic museums can serve as place where we come to know better the diversity and dignity of our many neighbors. This is the promise of encyclopedic museums. And it is a promise all the more important in the age of globalization in which we live.

Event is free and for members only. Reservations are required and non-transferable. Space is limited and reservations are first come, first served.

From:
Chicago Art Institute

Challenging the Encyclopedic Museum—Berlin’s Museum Island
12/4, 6-7 p.m. Fullerton Hall Free
360 Degrees: Art beyond Borders

In the second lecture of the four-part series, Thomas Gaehtgens, currently Director of the Getty Research Institute, and recently Director of the German Center for the History of Art, Paris, reflects on the encyclopedic Berlin National Museum, their history and purpose from their founding in the 19th century to their current expansion following the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

From:
Chicago Art Institute

The Encyclopedic Museum—Enlightened or Entitled?
3/19, 6-7 p.m. Fullerton Hall Free
360 Degrees: Art beyond Borders

Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, explores aspects of entitlement and/or responsibility of the encyclopedic museum from his unique perspective as director of one of the world’s greatest museums for over three decades.

From:
Chicago Art Institute

Global Collections for Global Cities
4/2, 6-7 p.m. Fullerton Hall Free
360 Degrees: Art beyond Borders

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum since 2002 and Chairman of World Collections, a British diplomatic post created in 2008, discusses the leadership role of the British Museum in the current global cultural climate. The last fifty years of intense migration all over the world have seen the emergence, for the first time in history, of truly global cities. Have those cities’ institutions been able to create global citizens?

Across the world, and especially in Asia, new museums are being built to tell both local and global stories. From the standpoint of the British Museum, the first large museum set up to examine and present a world narrative, MacGregor considers some of the issues that this Enlightenment idea must now confront.

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2 Comments »

  1. DR.KWAME OPOKU said,

    09.28.08 at 8:20 am

    We look forward with great interest to reading what the proponents of the “universal museum ” still have to say about the concept and above all why they now prefer “encyclopedic museum”.
    It is clear that they will like to avoid many of the criticisms that have been leveled against the “universal museum”. But they should realize that a simple change of name will not allow the British Museum,Louvre,The State Museums in Berlin, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago to escape their histories unless they re-write history as Neil MacGregor has proposed elsewhere.
    The concept formerly known as “universal museum” reminds me very much of the “artist formerly known as Prince”,working under a different name but using the same voice, the same or similar materials, the same band and the same musicians.
    To use the presence of the many immigrants from Africa and Asia in Europe as post facto justification for the “universal museum” and its rapacious acquisition policy and practice is a dangerous line of argument.
    A change of name and radical changes of policies and practices may have some effects. But can the “universal museum” make such revolutionary changes apart from verbal changes? Could the “universal museum” return some of its illegally and illegitimately acquired artefacts to their countries of origin
    as we have been suggesting in numerous articles? (PLEASE NOTE THAT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE A DISTINCTION IS MADE BETWEEN “SOME” AND “ALL”).
    No amount of verbal contortions will protect the “universal museum” and its supporters from criticisms unless there is an honest admission of the unhappy and violent history of colonialism and imperialism,coupled with a genuine attempt to establish new egalitarian relationships with countries and the peoples deprived of their cultural artefacts. All this assumes a realistic recognition of the history of Europe,Asia,the Americas and Africa since the days of the so-called European Enlightenment; the advanced ideas as well as the foolish and racist prejudices of the Enlightenment philosophers must all be taken into account.
    Kwame Opoku,28 September.

  2. DR.K.OPOKU said,

    09.28.08 at 8:28 am

    We look forward with great interest to reading what the proponents of the “universal museum” still have to say about the concept and above all why they now prefer “encyclopedic museum”.
    It is clear that they will like to avoid many of the criticisms that have been levelled against the “universal museum”. But they should realize that a simple change of name will not allow the British Museum, Louvre, The State Museums in Berlin, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago to escape their histories unless they re-write history as Neil MacGregor has proposed elsewhere.
    The concept formerly known as “universal museum” reminds me very much of the “artist formerly known as Prince”, working under a different name but using the same voice, the same or similar materials, the same band and the same musicians.
    To use the presence of the many immigrants from Africa and Asia in Europe as post facto justification for the “universal museum” and its rapacious acquisition policy and practice is a dangerous line of argument.
    A change of name and radical changes of policies and practices may have some effects. But can the “universal museum” make such revolutionary changes apart from verbal changes? Could the “universal museum” return some of its illegally and illegitimately acquired artefacts to their countries of origin
    as we have been suggesting in numerous articles? (PLEASE NOTE THAT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE A DISTINCTION IS MADE BETWEEN “SOME” AND “ALL”).
    No amount of verbal contortions will protect the “universal museum” and its supporters from criticisms unless there is an honest admission of the unhappy and violent history of colonialism and imperialism, coupled with a genuine attempt to establish new egalitarian relationships with countries and the peoples deprived of their cultural artefacts. All this assumes a realistic recognition of the history of Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa since the days of the so-called European Enlightenment; the advanced ideas as well as the foolish and racist prejudices of the Enlightenment philosophers must all be taken into account.
    Kwame Opoku, 28 September,2008.

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