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Lectures on the Encyclopaedic Museum

James Cuno [1], Neil MacGregor [2], Phillipe De Montebello [3] & Thomas Gaehtgens represent the astonishingly one sided collection of speakers lecturing in Chicago on the concept [4] formerly known as the Universal Museum [5]. (details of each lecture follow the main article).

Chicago Art Institute [6]

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.


Chicago Art Institute [7]

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.

Chicago Art Institute [8]

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.

Chicago Art Institute [9]

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.

Chicago Art Institute [10]

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.