History of Art and Architecture

Terry Smith Colloquium

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 - 12:00pm

Room 202, Frick Fine Arts Building

Why collect now? If so, how, and in whose interests? Some issues facing modern and contemporary art museums.

The growth in new art museums and additions to existing ones in many parts of the world today, not least in Asia, seems unstoppable. How sound are the presumptions about infinite expansion on which this boom is built? Five factors raise issues about the kinds of collections that these museums are building: the “creative destruction” that is at the basis of the dominant economic systems today; the proliferation and diversification of the visual arts exhibitionary complex; problems of overdevelopment in core parts of the complex and underdevelopment in others; the paradoxes of modern vis-à-vis contemporary museums of art; and the unsettling prospect of all collections of everything becoming entirely virtual. In my keynote lecture for What Should Museums Collect?, a symposium to be hosted by the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea, on November 30 and December 1, 2018, I will argue that these concerns are shaping collecting in modern and contemporary art museums today, that they raise important questions about future collection policies, which, in turn, impacts on museum approaches to exhibitions, education, and outreach.