Museology: a Timeline of Critical Events
June 5, 2008
1677 G. Mitelli’s “A Baroque “Cabinet of Curiosities.” Lorenzo Legati, Museo Cospiano annesso a quello del famoso Ulisse Aldrovandi e donato alla sua patria dall’illustrissimo Signor Ferdinando Cospi. “One of the first full-fledged demonstrations of this interpretative strategy was Eilean Hooper-Greenhill’s Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge, several times reprinted since its appearance in 1992. “[I]nstead of attempting to find generalisations and unities,” Hooper-Greenhill proposed “to look for differences, for change, and for rupture.”15 This “effective history” as distinct from the “normal history” of progressive development would clear the way to a full appreciation for the array of alternative practices that the old teleological accounts had glossed over or suppressed. On the model of Foucault’s templates of successive formations of power and knowledge (the famous discursive formations-discourse-epistemes), Hooper-Greenhill discussed a succession of sites of collection and display—the Medici Palace in Florence; the Renaissance Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosities (see Fig. 1) the natural history collections of the seventeenth century, particularly the Repository of the Royal Society in England; and the modern “Disciplinary Museum” for which the postrevolutionary Louvre was the prototype. The result is not a connected museum history, let alone a history of “the” museum. It is rather a kind of genealogical chart of the shifting constellations of epistemology and authority governing the collection of material objects” (Starn 2005).
1683 The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology is the UK’s oldest public museum opened. Prior to its opening in 1683, the word “Museum” wasn’t even used in English.
1783 An image depicting the monument to Friedrich II in Kassel’s Friedrichsplatz. The Museum Fridericianum proudly claimed that it was the first museum in Europe. Cassel had galleries, parks, gardens and palaces that imitated the magnificence of Versailles. The Langraves of Hesse-Cassel were dealers in men for centuries. Hessian mercenaries had defeated the agrarian peasants in the area and took their lands. Napoleon III was imprisoned in Cassel, Northern Germany. See Crimp ‘The Art of Exhibition’ (OMR:236).
1828 In his plans for the Berlin Museum, Schinkel preserved the world of classical perfection in his rotunda which was also the visitor’s first encounter with the museum.”The sight of this beautiful and exalted place must create the mood for and make one susceptible to the pleasure of judgement that the building holds in store throughout.” [. . . ] “First delight, then instruct.” This sanctuary as Schinkel called it, would contain the prize works of monumental classical sculpture mounted on high pedestals. This was to have the effect of preparing the visitor for a “march through the history of man’s striving for Absolute Spirit. Schinkel planned a gestalt in which all relationships among objects were fixed. He paid close attention to Hegel’s notion of aesthetics as they were elaborated in his lectures from 1823-29. Hegel declared that, “The spirit of our world todat appears beyond the stage at which art is the supreme mode of our knowledge of the Absolute. The peculiar nature of artistic production and of works of art no longer fulfills our highest need. We have got beyond venerating works of art as divine and worshipping them. The impression they make on us needs a higher touchstone and a different test. Thought and reflection have spread their wings over fine art.” (Hegel, Introduction to Aesthetics). Hegel was speaking of the Owl of Minerva which was to be exhibited in the museum’s rotunda. The Owl of Minerva prepares the viewer for a contemplation of art which “has lost for us genuine truth and life, and has rather been transferred into our ideas instead of maintaining its earlier necessity in reality . . . Art invites us to intellectual consideration, and that not for the purpose of creating art again, but for knowing philosophically what art is.” Crimp continues, “It is upon this wresting of art from its necessity in reality that idealist aesthetics and the ideal museum are founded; and it is against the power of their legacy that we must still struggle for a materialist aesthetics and a materialist art (Crimp 1993:302).
1845 P. T. Barnum’s Grand Colossal Museum and Greatest Show on Earth (Boon 1991:259).
1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition was one of the first great world fair’s which were a great nationalistic invention in the 19th century based on the theme of European’s progress (Errington 1998:18 ). Colonized peoples were represented as sources of raw materials. The disciplines of folklore and archaeology were used for nationalistic purposes. The Crystal Palace unintentionally represented Britain’s colonial transgressions (Boon 1991:259). The world’s fair, the museum of science and technology, the fine arts museum, the natural history museum are examples of public sites for mass education in the idea of progress (Errington 1998:19).
1861 Edward Belcher wrote an paper entitled ‘On the manufacture of works of art by the Esquimaux’ which is archived in the Department of Ethnography in the British Museum in London. See J. King Franks and Ethnography. This may be the first paper written on Inuit art (Belcher 1861).
1892 Henry James (1892) described Venice as a beautiful tomb, a museum city with its gondoliers, beggars and models as custodians and ushers and objects of the great museum. (James, Henry. 1988. Henry James on Italy [Selections from Italian Hours] New York: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1988:10 cited in Boon 1991:255). Crimp (IMR 1993:109) referred to a ghost tale by Henry James which played on the double, antithetical meaning of the word presence. “The presence before him was a presence.” In his ghost stories James uses a notion of presence as a ghost that is really an absence. It refers to a presence which is not there. Crimp added the idea of a presence as a kind of increment of being there. It is a ghostly presence that is its excess of presence even when the person conjured is absent. Crimp compared this to Laurie Anderson’s presence at Documenta 7 (1982) in Cassel as an uninvited but powerfully present contemporary artist.
1893 Boas has collected data for this book while gathering ethnographic material in preparation for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition which he hoped would be a potential for public education about other cultures through the use of culturally sensitive and intelligent ethnographic displays. Boas, a Jew devoted his life to dismantling racist notions that had impregnated the social sciences in the 19th century. He was so disgusted by the final displays of human culture in the world fairs that he refused any further collaboration. At the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair Inuit wore their fur clothing in the heat of Chicago summers. They demonstrated the art of snapping whips and exhibited their kayaks. Franz Boas’ (1858-1942) book entitled The Central Eskimo was reprinted. Boas has been called the father of American Anthropology. Boas promoted the concept of cultural determinism. His students including Margaret Mead founded university departments and/or directed museums of ethnography. See also The World as Marketplace: Commodification of the Exotic at the World’s Colombian Exposition, Chicago (Hinsley 1991) Columbia Exposition was the origin of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (Errington 1998:20).
1904 Exposition in St. Louis displayed Philippine natives. The US had recently annexed the Philippines.
1905 Franz Boas resigned after ten years with the American Museum of Natural History because he was convinced that it was impossible to adequately represent cultural meaning on so slim a basis as physical objects. (8 ) He turned his attention to analysis of oral traditions, hoping to find in texts recorded directly from native speakers a more objective method of addressing the issues preoccupying the anthropology of his day — race, language, and culture. (9) Some of his followers, though, continued to argue for the superior objectivity of material culture; Alfred Kroeber, for instance, saw archaeological data as ‘the purest [data] there are.’ (10) This penchant for trying to abstract evidence about ‘traditional’ culture from embodied words and things, while ignoring the turmoil engulfing Native peoples at the time collections were made, has retrospectively been interpreted as a serious shortcoming of early anthropology, but it established patterns. “In the short history of anthropology, analyses of spoken words and of material objects have usually been compartmentalized. In North America this dichotomy reflects the way the discipline was originally constituted.
1907 Picasso’s acquaintance Pieret began to make raids on the Louvre removing Phoenician antiquities and selling them to Picasso. Richardson suggested that these Iberian sculptures inspired Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907) (Richardson 1996:22-3). Picasso claimed that his epiphany came in when he paid a visit to the seldom frequented Ethnographical Museum at the Trocadero, now the Musee de l’Homme. He described this visit to Malraux later. “When I went to the old Trocadero, it was disgusting. The Flea Market. The smell. I was all alone. I wanted to get away. But I didn’t leave. I stayed. I understood that it was important: something was happening to me right? The masks weren’t like any other pieces of sculpture. Not at all. They were like magic things. But they weren’t the Egyptian pieces or the Chaldean? We hadn’t realized it. Those were primitives, not magic things. The Negro pieces were intercesseurs, mediators: ever since then I’ve known the word in French. They were against everything. I too believe that everything is unknown, that everything is an enemy! Everything! I understood what the Negroes used their sculpture for… The fetishes were… weapons. To help people avoid coming under the influence of spirits again, to help them become independent. Spirits, the unconscious (people still weren’t talking about that much), emotion — they’re all the same thing. I understand why I was a painter. All alone in that awful museum, with masks, dolls made by the redskins, dusty manikins. Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon must have come to me that day, but not at all because of the forms; because it was my first exorcism painting— yes absolutely! (Malraux 1974:11)” Picasso discovered African art section of Tropedaro? in Louvre (Errington 1998:10). Primitive objects, history
1910 National Gallery of Canada Collection moved to east wing of the Victoria Memorial Museum building.
1914 “In her recent book, The Death of Authentic Primitive Art and Other Tales of Progress (1998 ) anthropologist Shelly Errington traces the rise of the modernist paradigm of Authentic Primitive Art in the United States through a series of temporary exhibits, ranging from the 1914 exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s 219 Gallery in New York to the exhibits of African, Oceanic and American Indian Art at the Museum of Modern Art during the 1930s and 1940s to the permanent Museum of Primitive Art established in New York in 1957 (Phillips 2002:46-7).”
1923-42 Frederick Keppel was the president of powerful Carnegie Corporation. At that the Corporation were interested in creating elitist consensus building and in cultural development in places like Australia. The Corporation’s ideals, values, prejudices, interests and assumptions tended to support business-orientated, white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant men (Lagemann 1989:6-8,104). Keppel’s aim was to the transmission of “traditionally elite culture…[through]… enlightening public taste directly”. In regard to the arts it was clear that “the goal was to elevate the “best taste” rather than “improve the average”. Under Keppel, classical styles in the fine arts, great literature and the sensibilities and habits associated with them, were seen as “essential to character and taste especially as culture became more susceptible to commercial standards and interests”. Keppel’s goal was to be achieved, not just through schools, but also via the diverting of popular interest in education to agencies like the library, adult education center and the art museum. E. Root (president of the Carnegie Corporation until 1932) echoed 1920 sentiment, when he directed that Corporation policy would follow the trend “for art education and art appreciation… to unite all of the arts in the common endeavor to educate the publics tastes and to train men and women who may interpret the arts to the body of the people” (Lagemann 1989:95,102,115,117).
1923 Le Corbusier held up an image of a pipe as an image of pure functionalism. See Foucault (OT 1982:60) See Magritte (1926).
1926 Réné Magritte (1898-1967) entitled a painting Ceci n’est pas une pipe. See Foucault (1973).
1927 Marius Barbeau was an ethnologist who proposed the 1927 exhibition showing native and non-native artists side by side, Emily Carr and totem poles. “The interrelation of totem poles and modern paintings displayed in close proximity made it clear that the inspiration for both kinds of art expression sprang from the same fundamental background. One enhanced the beauty of the other and made it more significant. The Indian craftsmen were great artists in their way, and original; the moderns responded to the same exotic themes, but in terms consonant with their own traditions (Barbeau 1932:337-8 cited in Nemiroff 1992:23).”
1930 Canadian Handicrafts Guild organized an exhibition of Eskimo Arts and Crafts at the McCord Museum in Montreal. The exhibition attracted the attention of the New York Times (Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec 1980:11).
1936 Walter Benjamin wrote his influential essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” (1936) the aura is the source of all value in a deteriorating world. Aura as used by Walter Benjamin refers to “the associations which, at home in the mémoire involuntaire, tend to cluster around the object of a perception”(186). Its place in memory reveals that the aura is what has made the objects of the collector, the translator and the storyteller seem so meaningful “Once you have approached the mountains of cases in order to mine the books from them…what memories crowd in on you!”(66), he writes of his collection. He connects storytelling explicitly to memory. “Memory is the epic faculty par excellence”(97) and even employs the term “aura”. The storyteller is the man who could let the wick of his life be consumed completely by the gentle flame of his story. This is the basis of the incomparable aura about the storyteller….The storyteller is the figure in which the righteous man encounters himself (108-9). The aura is elsewhere defined in these telling terms. Experience of the aura thus rests on the transportation of a response common in human relationships to the relationship between the inanimate or natural object and man….To perceive the aura of an object we look at means to invest it with the ability to look at us in return. This experience corresponds to the data of the mémoire involontaire (188 ). As one can see, before the essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” (1936) the aura is the source of all value in a deteriorating world. It grounds the practice of the collector, the storyteller and indirectly the translator for it lends to their activities a purposefulness they would otherwise not have, becoming only allegories of market strategies. It makes sense that he would have to declare war on this concept given the way those activities resemble market strategies even with their aura__ given, in fact, the resemblance of aura to ideology. Experience of the aura thus rests on the transportation of a response common in human relationships to the relationship between the inanimate or natural object and man….To perceive the aura of an object we look at means to invest it with the ability to look at us in return. This experience corresponds to the data of the mémoire involontaire (188 ). Crimp (OMR 1993:112) argued that art history adopts an approach modeled on kunstwissenschaft wherein art historians attempt to prove or disprove the aura or presence of the authentic, unique original aspects of works of art. Using chemical analysis or connoisseurship art historians can prove or disprove the authenticity of a work of art which assures its place in a museum. Museums reject copies and reproductions. The presence of the artist must be detected through the work of art or the claim of authenticity cannot be made. See Crimp (OMR 1993:112).
1941 The US was almost ready to join the war. American nationalism intensified. Marc Chagall invited by the Museum of Modern Art, arrived in New York the day the Germans invaded Russia. New York columnist Henry McBride claimed that Americans “had become the sole custodians of the arts” since the collapse of Europe. He vaunted the Museum of Modern Art, “Is not the museum asking us to take the hint and to return to these original sources and start our aesthetic life anew?” (McBride 1941 cited in Nemiroff 1992:29)
1930s-40s “In her recent book, The Death of Authentic Primitive Art and Other Tales of Progress (1998 ) anthropologist Shelly Errington traces the rise of the modernist paradigm of Authentic Primitive Art in the United States through a series of temporary exhibits, ranging from the 1914 exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s 219 Gallery in New York to the exhibits of African, Oceanic and American Indian Art at the Museum of Modern Art during the 1930s and 1940s to the permanent Museum of Primitive Art established in New York in 1957 (Phillips 2002:46-7).”
1941 The Museum of Modern Art in New York “staged a major exhibition called “Indian Art in the United States”, a seminal show which demonstrated that scholars and curators had recognised the unstoppable force of a key area of aesthetics and felt obliged to say: “Yes, we recognise this art, these artifacts, for the divinely inspired wonders which they often are.” One man who summed up what the American public was seeing, in many cases for the first time, was the ethnographer and anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. “Before long,” he noted, “these works will appear in museums and galleries of fine art.” (Hensall 1999) See 1999 “The Back Half – Visions of another America” The New Statesman.
1941 The exhibition entitled the “Art of Australia” traveled to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York and the National Gallery of Art Washington and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The exhibition in Canada displayed different works of art than those shown in the US. The MoMA and the US National Gallery of Art were considered to be the most significant. Canada is a commonwealth country whose civic structure and population size is roughly similar to Australia’s. “These three venues set the parameters and context of the exhibition as a public event, configuring the show in a sequence of events in a bigger cultural picture that reveals the relationship of alliances that exists between governments and the deployment of culture as a tool of propaganda (Ryan, Louise 2002)”.
1947 André Malraux introduced his notion of the musée imaginaire or Museum Without Walls. “In his well known Museum Without Walls of 1947, André Malraux commented on the “fictitious” aspect of art books and observed that reproductions not only change the scale of original works, they also make them lose any sense of relative proportion when gathered together in such a way. Enlarged details, lighting, angle of shots, colour, everything metamorphoses the works. Furthermore, reproduction can bring side by side works of art that could never be seen together simply because they are housed in various institutions or scattered in different locations, indoors and outdoors, all over the world. The end result for Malraux was nothing less than an “imaginary museum”, an ideal art museum, as opposed to a real one, one that transformed the way art was experienced, appreciated and understood” (Malraux, 1956).
1949 In his 1949 publication La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen à l’époque de Philippe II, Fernard Braudel irreversibly transformed the way history was written. The social science turn in historiography was propelled forward by Braudel’s methodology based on “la longue durée”. Braudel examined white writings on the surface of the profound oceans to explore societies in relation to their geographic environments, social structures, their trade routes and their intellectual histories. Braudel examined the geography, political economies and sociology of the cities, Venice, Milan, Genoa and Florence in the age of Phillip II. Images of the immobility of time in Borges map contrast with the rapid acceleration of time in traditional history where centuries and millenia were encapsulated into the lives of singular heroic figures from Alexander the Great, Caesar, Gengis Khan, Louis XIV to Napoleon (Braudel 1949).
1950s Whitney committed to MoMA orthodoxy-the preference for European modernism. Prior to 1950s the Whitney was committed to realist art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MoMA) was considered to be an elitist, right of center museum dedicated to exhibiting the aesthetic tastes of the New York establishment.
1953 Charles and Peter Gimpel opened an exhibition of Inuit art entitled “Eskimo Carvings” in May in London, England at the gallery they had opened in 1946 (Vorano 2004:9-18 ). An illustrated catalogue was produced for the exhibition. Vorano argues that this was a pivotal exhibition introducing Inuit art internationally. Charles Gimpel was a photographer who traveled to Canada’s far north in the 1950s and 1960s long before this became a popular tourist attraction. See Tippett and Gimpel (1994). Charles Gimpel and Terry Ryan visited Kingait in 1958 when James Houston was there. “Charles Gimpel had arranged an exhibition of Inuit art at his Gallery during the Coronation celebrations in 2 June of 1953, and the international press covered it Time International, Mayfair, The Observer, The Times. Every prominent newspaper in the western world was writing about this art, and Canadian critics decided that maybe there was something here they should take a look at.” It was terrific: the Museum of Modern Art in New York bought the first set of Cape Dorset prints. Governor General Vincent Massey gave an Inuit print to Princess Margaret as a wedding present.”
1953 James Houston met with his friend Eugene Power to discuss ways of marketing Inuit Art in the United States. Power, who owned and operated University Microfilms in Ann Arbor, established a non-profit gallery in Ann Arbor called Eskimo Art Incorporated to import the work. He encouraged the Cranbrook Institute of Science to host an exhibition of the work in 1953, the first exhibition of Inuit Art in the United States. In 2004 The Dennos Museum Center holds a collection of nearly 1,000 works of Inuit art from the Canadian Arctic. It is believed to be one of the largest and most historically complete collection of Inuit sculpture and prints in the United States. James Houston visited New York and Chicago to sell Inuit carvings and talk about their experience in the Canadian Arctic. Houston’s friend Eugene B. Power at the university at Ann Arbour, Michigan invited some colleagues including museum director Dr. Robert Hatt and anthropologist Bruce Inverarity, who began collecting Inuit art. Power began Eskimo Art, Inc Power’s foundation Eskimo Art Inc offered to purchase the entire Guild inventory of Inuit art although the Guild declined the offer. Guild president Jack Molson had informed James Houston that even though the quality of the works was improving the Guild did not have a large enough clientele to sell the work. Eskimo Art Inc later helped organize exhibitions of Inuit art including a travelling exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institute in Washington. Houston described other early exhibitions at the Field Museum in Chicago and at the Museum of Natural History in New York. There were exhibitions in the States before Canadian galleries noticed (Houston 1995:146-8 ).
1957 “In her recent book, The Death of Authentic Primitive Art and Other Tales of Progress (1998 ) anthropologist Shelly Errington traces the rise of the modernist paradigm of Authentic Primitive Art in the United States through a series of temporary exhibits, ranging from the 1914 exhibition at Alfred Stieglitz’s 219 Gallery in New York to the exhibits of African, Oceanic and American Indian Art at the Museum of Modern Art during the 1930s and 1940s to the permanent Museum of Primitive Art established in New York in 1957 (Phillips 2002:46-7).”
1959 The Vancouver Museum and the Art Gallery of the University of British Columbia welcomed young innovative artists of their region. Roy Kiyooka added his New York influence to Jack Shadbolt’s charisma at the Vancouver School of Fine Arts. Vancouver because of its closer ties to the American west coast, Seattle and San Francisco, was not evolving in an artistic vacuum. See Withrow (1972:12.)
1960 Michael Spock director of the Boston Children’s Museum adopted a missionary zeal in development and implementation of hands-on visitor-centred learning experiences in museum display. Based on his own learning experience as a dyslexic in a well-known and politically liberal family, Spock focused on a concept of aesthetics which was linked to comfort in learning. He used interactive materials in the museum space prior to developing the exhibition to ask viewers what they wanted to know about the exhibition content. He and Oppenheimer were among the pioneers in hands-on museum display (Gurian 1991:180 in Karp and Levine).
1960s and 1970s Canada experienced a major expansion of museums through the late 60’s and 70’s, an expansion often inspired and led by volunteers.
1960s Photography was ‘discovered’ as an art form. Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol began to silkscreen photographic images onto the canvases. Through this process photography contaminated the purity of modernism’s separate categories of painting and sculpture. See Crimp, (On the Museums Ruins 1993:77).
1964 The artist Marcel Broodthaers held an exhibition at the Galerie Saint-Laurent in Brussels. He explained that until that time he had been good for nothing so he decided to try to create. His admission of bad faith, of the commodization of art, made of him a creator of ‘museum fictions’. “Fiction enables us to grasp reality and at the same time that which is veiled by reality.” See Crimp (1993:201).
1965 Ian Smith, the Prime Minister of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) signed the Declaration of Independence. Museums in Rhodesia reflected the anti-black stance of the government. Africans were discouraged from patronizing museums. The cultural heritage of Africans of Zimbabwe was very rich. Material culture included numerous objects that were aesthetic, sophisticated, innovatice, original and ingenious. Artifacts were collected by third parties, such as farmers, missionaries. These collections were then acquired by museums so that there was no relationship between the ethnographer and the object. The original environment and social context of the object were of no interest to the museum since their was no value assigned to the entire culture of Africans of Zimbabwe. A policy of centralization of research collections was adopted and implemented between 1979 and 1981. No African traditions of Zimbabwe were collected in the archives until 1977. They had clearly set up museums as white culture houses. When Robert Mugabe, first black prime minister of Zimbabwe first came to power in 1981? he called for a reconciliation of the political, economic, cultural identities of Zimbabwe. Cultural institutions through collections and galleries are the central artery of communication as providers of education and information. Some argued that cultural institutions in Rhodesia, like museums, were a European concept that could not be adapted to the needs of a pluralistic society like Zimbabwe. See Munjeri in Karp and Lavine.
1967 Federal and provincial governments built historical parks. Students wore period costumes and took on roles of their forefathers as a summer job. Canadians were learning to be proud of being Canadian. Tourism was on the rise.
1968 But in Krauss’ narrative, by the late 1960s video and television were rendering film obsolete; Broodthaers’ Musee d’Art Moderne signaled a loss of confidence in medium in retooling the readymade to embrace the entirety of commercial dross. In so doing Broodthaers further registered the classifying and collecting functions of the museum as a practice heading toward obsolescence See EndNote entry under Krauss (1999).
1970 Museum workers including Leah Inutiq, at the newly founded institution Nunatta Sunaqutangit organised an exhibition of Inuit Art during the Royal Visit to Frobisher Bay, NWT.
1970s According to d’Anglure (2002:227) new generation of educated Inuit, including the founders of Igloolik Isuma like Paul Apak and political leader Paul Quassa, began to visit archives, museums and libraries to learn more about the past and about shamanism. Research into the past intensified along with negotiations for Nunavut and self-government. (D’Anglure 2002:227).
1970 Minimalist artist Richard Serra moved his work outside museum walls by building Spiral Jetty in the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
1971 Doris Shadbolt was one of the curators of the exhibition “Sculpture of the Inuit: Masterworks of the Canadian Arctic” which opened at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
1971 The Multiculturalism Policy and its attendant Canadian Multicultural Act were adopted. “The federal multicultural program formalised support for the idea of Canadian identity as constituted in its diversity of cultures, an idea that was only implicit in Massey-Lévesque. Multicultural diversity was designed to be the basis of the cultural pillar of Canada’s foreign and domestic policy. In many ways, its logic is the inverse of Massey-Lévesque. The aim of Massey-Lévesque was about building institutions that would unify a compartmentalised nation and about underlining Canada’s historical roots in Europe, primarily Britain and France, as a means to deflect Canadians from the pernicious influences of American culture.” See Ken Lum (1999).
1971 Duncan Cameron published his article distinguishing between the museum that plays a timeless, universal functions as a structured sample of reality, an objective model of reality (Cameron 1971:201. The museum as forum is a place for confrontation, experimentation and debate (Cameron 1971:197 cited in Karp 1991:3).” “In 1971 the Canadian museologist Duncan F. Cameron pointed out the museum’s need to develop both the functions as a temple and as a forum. Twenty years later he once more offers a critical analysis of the museum and the museum profession. Cameron still thinks the museum profession can form part of the vanguard for positive social change. One of the biggest problems, he finds in the conflicting values within the individual, who is constituted as an unholy trinity of private, professional and institutional persons. Each professional person will have to re-examine himself, the academic disciplines and the museum institution. To meet the challenges of tomorrow it is necessary with a change of heart, not only intellectualism.” (Gjestrum 1994).
1973 Daniel Buren published his influential article in Artforum entitled ‘Function of the Museum’.
1973 Marcel Broodthaers, produced a film entitled A Voyage on the North Sea.
1974 The Museum of Modern Art held a controversial exhibition entitled ‘Eight Contemporary Artists’ including the highly politicized Conceptual and Minimalist work. Minimalist artist and museum critic Daniel Buren cynically argued that works of art might as well be locked up in vaults to protect them since they are already so isolated from the world framed, encased in glass in museums. Burin’s contribution to the exhibition was striped panels and fragments representing these frames affixed to nearby corridor and garden walls. Vogue magazine’s Barbara Rose vented her anger against this complicity between the dominant bourgeois cultural institutions and politically-motivated critics of these institutions. She argued that artists like Buren were disenchanted and demoralized artists who sabotaged museums of prestigious museums like the MoMA. focused their aggression against art greater than their own. See Crimp (Museum Ruins:85).
1974 William Rubin responded to Rose in “The Museum Concept is not Infinitely Expandable” published in Artforum explaining that ‘museums are essentially compromise institutions invented by bourgeois democracies to reconcile the larger public with art conceived within the compass of elite private patronage’. Rubin predicted that museums are perhaps becoming irrelevant to the practices of contemporary art. He predicted the end of the period of modern art (c.1850-1970) which for over a century focused on the ‘easel painting concept with its connection to bourgeois democratic life and concurrently the development of private collections as well as the museum concept. See Crimp (Museum Ruins:87). Crimp (1993:281) described how Rubin attempted “to defend the museum against the charge that it had become unresponsive to contemporary art. He insisted that this art simply had no place in a museum, which he sees essentially as a temple for high art. This, of course, puts him in perfect accord with New York critic Hilton Kramer’s position. Crimp (1993) argued that ‘What is never acknowledged is that ignoring those forms of art which exceed the museum – whether the work of historical avant-garde or that of the present – will necessarily give a distorted view of history.”
1970s Museology became more professional as money increased. Their staff’s professional credentials trumped experienced volunteers.
1970s Feminist projects consisted of retrieval-of the re-presentation of work by women that had been “hidden from history,” as a result of the by now well-known joint effects of selective art criticism, art history, and museum practices. “ (Nochlin 1971, Kristeva 1980, Parker and Pollock 1981), Duncan, Broude and Garrard 1982, Pollock 1988, Tickner 1988, Lipton 1988, Rose in Holly 1997) Borrowing from Marxist ideology critiques, Pollock’s Vision and Difference (1988 ) contends that the only viable conceptual framework for the study of women’s artistic history is one that emphasizes the ways in which gender differences are socially constructed. While indebted to poststructuralist French feminist thinkers such as Julia Kristeva (who also wrote several important essays in art theory, such as “Motherhood According to Giovanni Bellini,” Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art, ed. Leon S. Roudiez, 1980), contemporary English-speaking feminists such as Pollock, Lisa Tickner (The Spectacle of Women: Imagery of the Suffrage Campaign, 1907-1914, 1988 ), Eunice Lipton (Looking Into Degas: Uneasy Images of Women and Modern Life, 1988 ), Carol Duncan (“Virility and Domination in Early Twentieth Century Vanguard Painting,” Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany, ed. Norma Broude and Mary Garrard, 1982), and Jacqueline Rose tend to focus on the articulation of sexual difference rather than on a definition of a specific female artistic sensibility. They simultaneously restore a certain power to images, for they emphasize that art is as capable of constituting ideology as it is of reflecting it–a political commitment that goes way beyond the mission of art history proposed by either the formalist tradition or the iconological method (See Feminist Theory and Criticism (Holly 1997).”
1975 Steven Spielberg’s film Jaws generated $1 million setting a benchmark for films that could be described as “blockbusters.” Spielberg and Lucas’ Star Wars (1977), the most successful film of the 1970s. Following the unprecedented box office success of Jaws and Spielberg and Lucas’ Star Wars (1977) Hollywood producers created high-budget, extravagant films with high audience estimates using aggressive and effective advertising techniques to market the films and offering related products (toys, clothing, etc) to enhance profits. The 1970s marked the beginning of the “blockbuster era”. (In WWII the high capacity, low accuracy bombs were called blockbusters by the media.)
1975 The Museum of Modern Art exhibition entitled Modern masters, Manet to Matisse was an unprecedented success when it was shown in New York August 5-September 28 and later in Australia. See exhibition catalogue: Lieberman, William S. Ed. 1975. Modern masters, Manet to Matisse. Museum of Modern Art, New York. This international exhibition which included mainly works on loan from international collections and attracted a wide audience including those who did not usually visit museums, heralded the age of the blockbuster (blockbuster era) in art museums in particular and museums in general.
1975 MoMA’s Modern Masters: Manet to Matisse was the first blockbuster art exhibition in Australia. John Stringer who worked at MoMA in the 1970’s was at least partly responsible for bringing this exhibition to Australia.
1977 Michel Foucault’s 1977 essay “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” provides his most programmatic and most influential statement on the genealogical method is the essay. See Starn (2005).
1976 Brian O’Doherty’s well-known series of articles entitled “White Cube” published in Artforum provide a useful analysis of the modernist art gallery and museum, like the Museum of Modern Art in the 1970s which provide a “a white, ideal space that, more than any single picture, may be the archetypal image of twentieth-century art.” Referring to the architectural rhetoric of modern museums, he described how these spaces in their whiteness seem “possessed by other spaces where conventions are preserved through the repetition of a closed system of values,… [the] sanctity of the church, the formality of the courtroom, [and] … the laboratory…”White Cube
1978 President Carter established a commission, chaired by professional “survivor” Elie Wiesel, to create a national museum in Washington memorializing Jewish suffering in Europe (Finkelstein 2000).
1979 U’mista Cultural Centre is located in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island near the northern tip of Vancouver Island. It adjoins the former residential school, St. Michael’s Residential School. The objects now on display U’mista Cultural Centre and the Kwagiulth Museum and Cultural Centre (opened 1979) were part of major 1921 potlatch hosted by Dan Cranmer from Alert Bay. Potlatch ceremony was criminalized against harsh criticism by Franz Boas. These objects were all confiscated by the Indian agent at Alert Bay, William Halliday who was a ‘former Indian residential school administrator imbued with civilizing zeal’. In the 1950s and 1960s there was a general cultural resurgence. The movement for repatriation emerged. The Museum of Man in Hull (now the Canadian Museum of Civilization) and the Royal Ontario Museum agreed to their repatriation. At this time the two museums were built with private and government funding. Objects in these museums have an evocative power that includes a sense of ‘here’ as well as formal, aesthetic power. See James Clifford in (Karp and Lavine).
1979 Vogue‘s Barbara Rose published ‘American Painting: The Eighties’
1979 Two “large collections of potlatch regalia were returned to the communities of Alert Bay and Cape Mudge in British Columbia. They were housed in museums built specifically to receive them and financed by the federal government. Repatriation can be a deeply spiritual and powerful experience, as indicated in the Peigan Nation response to repatriation of their cultural materials.” RCAP
1980s Marcel Broodthaers’ controversial work led to a series of publications including a special edition of the journal October (1987) devoted to his role in the unsettling the role of museums. Broodthaers registered the classifying and collecting functions of the museum as a practice heading toward obsolescence See EndNote entry under Krauss (1999).
1982 The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened the Rockefeller Wing of Primitive Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is considered to be a politically right of center museum, an establishment or elitist organization (Gurian 1991:178-9). The opening of the Rockefeller Wing was the culmination of “institutional validity” of the Primitive Art (Errington 1998 cited in Phillips 2002:46). Phillips summarized Errington’s argument that by the time Metropolitan Museum of Art opened this wing the distinction between purely authentic primitive art forms and cultural productions transformed by contact with the Other, that is, contaminating cultural (technological) influences leading to acculturation was already waning.
1982 Hans Haake participated in the Documenta 7 exhibition which was held at the Museum Fridericianum in Germany. Haake Oelgemaelde, Homage a Marcel Broodthaers in the Neue Gallery not in the Museum Fridericianum. His work was confrontational. On one wall was a detailed oil painting of Ronald Reagan which was in a gold frame and surrounded by classical museological framing devices. On the other was a gigantic photomural of a peaceful anti-Reagan demonstration protesting the deployment of cruise missiles to German soil held in Bonn a week prior . Artistic Director Rudi Fuchs presented a contradictory image. See Crimp (MR:238-9).
1983 Benedict Anderson wrote his influential “Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism” Census, map and museum are the three major institutions of power which shaped the way in which allowed the colonial state to imagine its dominion. These three institutions of knowledge management established systems of classification which nurtured a sense of identity in the emerging, imagined, national community. The museum served to classify, create hierarchies of value, store and served in a role of archontes of cultural traditions. (Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.) [MFB: Museums, along with census and maps, were one of the three major colonializing agents producing infinitely reproducible symbols of tradition that constructed imagined communities. Museums as symbols of a hierarchy of power and order responds to the individual and community's need-to-remember. The museum served to classify, create hierarchies of value, store and served in a role of archontes of cultural traditions. It is our limitation as humans constrained in serial time yet equipped with selective memories, that leaves us dependent on archives. Our long term memory is accessed through mechanisms that we do not yet fully comprehend, so we recall certain things but not others. Everyday life experiences provide individuals with an accumulation of events that evoke (sympathy) emotions. Remembering these sympathies repeated in small habits day after day, helps individuals to evaluate justice with greater lucidity and reason. Museums provide ] These three institutions of power profoundly shaped the way in which the colonial state imagined its dominion. The census created ”identities” imagined by the classifying mind of the colonial state. The fiction of the census is that everyone is in it, and that everyone has one, and only one, extremely clear place. The map also worked on the basis of a totalizing classification. It was designed to demonstrate the antiquity of specific, tightly bounded territorial units. It also served as a logo, instantly recognizable and visible everywhere, that formed a powerful emblem for the anticolonial nationalism being born. The museum allowed the state to appear as the guardian of tradition, and this power was enhanced by the infinite reproducibility of the symbols of tradition. Chapter 11: Memory and Forgetting Awareness of being embedded in secular, serial time, with all its implications of continuity, yet of ”forgetting” the experience of this continuity, engenders the need for a narrative of ”identity.”
1984 The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York hosted an exhibition entitled Primitivism in 20th Century Art which juxtaposed modern artworks with masks from Zaire, Nigeria and Inuit masks. McEvilley (1984) criticized the premise of the exhibition and inaugurated debates on representation of culture. Danto (1987) argued that the juxtapositioning was false and inane. The Museum of Modern Art held an exhibition entitled “Primitivism in 20th Century Art” which was attacked by critic Thomas McEvilley, who called for a rejection of Eurocentricism in cultural history. This opened debates on representation of cultures with a more sophisticated approach to discussions of Self and the Other that continued throughout the 1980s.
1984 The Maori exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum created tensions over ethnohistorical exhibitions. The ethnological and historical background material was rejected as nonsensical by the Maori elders revealing how deeply marginalized groups want to ‘define their own heritage’ and launching debates about institutional procedures (Lavine and Karp 1991:2).
1984 The MOMA held an exhibition in 1984 entitled “An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture, in which curator McShine excluded many important artists. AT&T Corporation sponsored the exhibition. Their interests were in accord with the exhibition’s. Innovation and experimentation were valued in business, industry and the arts. One of the new acquisitions of the Architecture and Design Galleries at the MOMA was a Bell 47D helicopter which was considered to be a coup de théatre. These helicopters are manufactured by the same corporation Textron, that builds the Huey model used against civilians in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. “Contemporary art of exhibition has taught us distinguish between the political and the aesthetic. A New York Times editorial described how, “A helicopter suspended from the ceiling, hovers over an escalator in the Museum of Modern Art . . . . The chopper is bright green, bug-eyed and beautiful. We know that it is beautiful because MoMA showed us the way to look at the 20th century.” See Crimp (1993:272-5).
1987 The exhibition catalogue (1987) was published for The Spirit Sings, an ethnographic exhibition of 106 artifacts sponsored by Shell Canada. The exhibition included cultural productions of the Tlinglit, Salish, Haida, Tsimshian (including the mate of the famous Musee de l’Homme prehistoric mask), Gitksan, Iglulik, Netsilik, Mackenzie Inuit, Copper Inuit, Qairnirmiut, Caribou Inuit, Sadliermiut, Southern Baffin, Labrador Inuit, Slavey, Kutchin, Athapaskan, Tahltan, Cree, Chipewyan, Tanaina, Ojibwa, Assiniboin, Sioux, Plains Cree, Blood, Blackfoot, Sarsi, Red River Metis, Late Missippian, Ottawa, Cayuga, Iroquois, Huron, Woodlands, Mohawk, Montagnais (Innu?), Naskapi, Micmac, Maliseet and Boethuk spanning centuries. The goal of this exhibition was to enhance understanding and appreciation of ‘the spirit of Canada’s Native peoples. It was dedicated to the ‘people who produced the objects included in the exhibition. Eighty-five institutions loaned works for the exhibition which was shown at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary and the Lorne Building in Ottawa. The voluminous preparatory research undertaken by a team of anthropologists and ethnographers produced a vast archives of slides and text that remains as an invaluable lasting resource for all researchers. In her Introduction Harrison (Harrison 1987:7) grouped together all the native populations in Canada at the time of contact suggesting a unified and unifying pan-Aboriginal world-view informed by myths and legends.
1987 In his publication Museums of Influence, Kenneth Hudson described how he had visited 37 museums that made significant changes in the 200 years of museology. He dismissed ethnographic museums as those that exhibited objects from exotic cultures without attempting to communicate essentials features of the societies more easily conveyed through film, video or even lectures. He laments the absence of ambitions, fears, poverty, disease, climate, cruelty, brutality, blood, sense, smell and therefore cohesion to the exhibits. “Ethnographical museums collect widely but do not dig deeply” (Hudson 1987:vii) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
1988 The “Lubicon Lake Cree organized a boycott of The Spirit Sings, the cultural showcase of the Winter Olympics in Calgary. Museums were asked not to lend objects for the display, and many people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, refused to attend. The boycott did a great deal to raise awareness of the issues, and as a result of the conflict, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Canadian Museums Association (CMA) formed a task force with a mandate to “develop an ethical framework and strategies for Aboriginal Nations to represent their history and culture in concert with cultural institutions”.6 The task force report sets out guiding principles, policies and recommendations on repatriation and calls for the creation of new relationships to serve the needs of Aboriginal people and the interests of Canadian cultural and heritage institutions. (See Appendix 6A to this chapter for excerpts from the report.)” RCAP
1988 Marybelle Mitchell wrote an article entitled “Current Issues Facing Museums” published in the Inuit Art Quarterly. In 1988 200 delegates met.
1988 Clifford went on to give a powerful example from a museum. The Portland Museum of Art houses the Rasmussen Collection, a series of masks, [end of page 98] headdresses, and other objects collected from southeastern Alaska during the 1920s. When the museum made plans to reinstall and reinterpret the collection in the late 1980s, it decided to involve Tlingit elders as consultants from early stages. A dozen prominent elders, representing clans that originally owned the objects, were invited to travel to Portland, Oregon. During a planning session at the museum, objects were brought out, and elders were asked to speak about them. Clifford describes how he and the curatorial staff, focusing on the objects, waited expectantly for some sort of detailed explication about how each object functioned, who made it, what powers it had within Tlingit society. Instead, he reports, the object acted as memory aids for the telling of elaborate stories and the singing of many songs. As these stories and songs were performed, they took on additional meanings. An octopus headdress, for example, evoked narratives reaching about a giant octopus that once blocked a bay, preventing salmon from state and federal agencies regulating the right of Tlingits to take salmon, so what was started as a traditional story took on precise political meanings in terms of contemporary struggles. “And in some sense the physical objects, at least as I saw it, were left at the margin. What really took center stage were the stories and songs.” (1) From Julie’s Cruikshank The Social Life of Stories: Narrative and Knowledge in the Yukon Territory.
1989 In 1989, “the editors of the first book on history museums in the United States complained about a “blanket of critical silence” surrounding the subject. In 1992, the British museum specialist Eilean Hooper-Greenhill observed that the museum as a historical institution had not received “any rigorous form of critical analysis.” Other scholars and critics chimed in around the same time.1 As it happened, a tidal wave of museum studies was just beginning to crest, many proclaiming critical agendas while complaining about their absence. The problem these days is how to navigate a flood of literature on the theory, practice, politics, and history of museums” (Starns 2005).
1989-90 Dr. Jeanne Cannizzo curated an exhibition mounted by the Royal Ontario Museum entitled “Into the Heart of Africa.” It was the most controversial show in the history of the ROM. A vocal opposition arose against cultural racism and appropriation. Cannizzo stated that the goal of the exhibition was to represent the impact of colonialism on Africa. However the 375 artifacts from central and west Africa used were donated around 1889 and onwards to the ROM by Canadian missionaries and military personnel who spent some time in Africa and fully supported Britain’s colonial campaign which imposed “Christianity, civilization and commerce” on Africans. Cannizzo misread her audiences and attempted to use the postmodern trope of irony to draw attention to racist terms such as ‘barbarous customs.’ In fact there were at least two divergent audiences. A misinformed general public read the exhibition as a uncritical cultural exhibition of primitive Africa and the good work of Canadian missionaries and soldiers. The large African-Canadian population of Toronto interpreted the exhibition as a racist assault. A slide show lecture containing highly derogatory, culturally racist, and paternalistic language played framed with a critical introduction and conclusion to situate viewers within the racist colonial context. But most people read it as ‘real’ without the critical postmodern lens of irony. Tour guides had no training in colonial histories or cultural sensitivities and presented the exhibition literally without understanding the critical ironic trope. The guide explained to Grade five children how missionaries taught Africans to carve wood and described African barbaric acts. “This case study crystallizes many of the issues related to cultural racism and cultural appropriation. Nourbese Philip (1993) suggests that at the heart of the ROM controversy are changing beliefs about the role and function of museums and other cultural institutions, especially the issue of who should have the power to represent and control images created by “others.” The traditional values and practices of institutions such as museums are difficult to change. One analyst poses an important question about the ROM controversy: Would the institution have supported a more critical approach to the subject? Would it have risked offending its important patrons, some of whom donated artifacts to the collection? (Butler, 1993:57).”(See the Colour of Democracy).
1990 ? Crossroads of Continents exhibition at the Museum of Natural History disseminated new research and scholarly understandings (in Karp and Levine 1991:315)
1990s There has been an exponential growth of the number of local museums and the expansion of large museums in the 1990s has been referred to as the big bang by former ICOM director Hugues de Varine.
1990 “The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act is a Federal law passed in 1990. NAGPRA provides a process for museums and Federal agencies to return certain Native American cultural items — human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony — to lineal descendants, and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. NAGPRA includes provisions for unclaimed and culturally unidentifiable Native American cultural items, intentional and inadvertent discovery of Native American cultural items on Federal and tribal lands, and penalties for noncompliance and illegal trafficking. In addition, NAGPRA authorizes Federal grants to Indian tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, and museums to assist with the documentation and repatriation of Native American cultural items, and establishes the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Review Committee to monitor the NAGPRA process and facilitate the resolution of disputes that may arise concerning repatriation under NAGPRA.”
1991 This is a performance art piece by poststructuralist artist. Her work is situated under institutional criticism. In it Andrea Fraser toured an exhibition of the work of contemporary artist Allan McCollum shown at the American Fine Arts Gallery in New York City. She presented the tour in two voices, her own and that of Ms. Jane Castleton), a fictional character, Fraser’s alter ego who was a museum volunteer docent with little understanding of modern art.
1991 Rabbi Michael Berenbaum was project director of the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Public awareness of the holocaust had heightened since 1978. Jewish suffering was once considered to be a footnote of WWII. This was changed and the horrendous crime was acknowledged.
1991 Ayanna Black (1991:27 in Creane cited in Barrett 2004) critiqued the Royal Ontario Museum’s infamous exhibition “Into the Heart of Africa.” She described the situation as follows, “They used the propaganda of the period without proper explanation or preamble. [The curator] did not want to manipulate the material, but she ended up implanting racist images because the critique of ‘intellectual arrogance’ did not come through. People missed it.” Cannizzo, a contract curator who had trained as a social and cultural anthropologist had done fieldwork experience in Sierra Leone misread her audience.
1991 Mieke Bal (1991) critiqued the Royal Ontario Museum’s infamous exhibition “Into the Heart of Africa” in a diachronics article entitled “The Politics of Citation.” He argued that the reproduction of racist, colonial imagery leads to reinscribing the very attitudes and assumptions that the critic is attempting to expose and analyse. Great care must be made to frame this imagery in such a way that the critique – and not the racist content – predominate. It is fair to ask whether ‘Into the Heart of Africa” did this. Many of the images were troubling for viewers who felt assaulted by the racist perspective embodied (Bal 1991:31 PC in D); museology, politics of representation;
1991 Lee-Ann Martin submitted her commissioned report to the Canada Council entitled “The Politics of Inclusion and Exclusion: Contemporary Native Art and Public Art Museums in Canada.” It was the catalyst for the Visual Arts Section’s Acquisition Assistance Program (1996-9) offering monetary incentives to encourage Canada’s fifty-six public galleries to purchase contemporary art by Canada’s First Peoples (Jessup 2002:xxv).
1991 A “blockbuster about the history of Glasgow [...] developed at the cost of $4.7 million left out all the painful and embarrassing parts of Glasgow history. The exhibition went ahead and failed to meet all marketing expectations (McLaughlin 1998 citing King, E. 1991. Access to Resources, CAMA conference paper. Adelaide, SA. PP 130-131).”
1991 Kenneth Hudson in “Misleading Ethnographical Museums” argued that experts in ethnography are “very knowledgeable about what is usually described as the “traditional culture” [..] but are much less informed about what is going on in the same country today” (Hudson 1991:459). He continued his argument that this lack of knowledge of the contemporary everyday life is acceptable in an exhibition of ancient Roman art since most museum goers are familiar with Italian culture today. It is less neither responsible nor constructive to exhibit traditional artefacts from Ghana without contextualizing them, since the average person may have the impression that Ghana today has remained as it was hundreds of years ago. He recognised that objects alone cannot convey the ambiguities and contradictions of contemporary everyday life of Bombay or Accra or even small town England. He praised an exhibition called Hunters of the North at the Museum of Mankind in London, UK for an installation showing families in the ‘traditional’ igloo and the portable hut. Did this exhibition manage to show anything of
1991 ROM under fire again over 1990 African exhibit: advisory panel members demanding unequivocal apology. ROM hoping to mend fences: Museum plans exhibition of Caribbean festival costumes. A rich sampling of Caribbean traditions: you may want to dismiss this ROM festival [ Caribbean Celebrations] as another crowd- pleasing gesture, but the centrepiece exhibit is worth catching
1992 “In 1992, the British museum specialist Eilean Hooper-Greenhill observed that the museum as a historical institution had not received “any rigorous form of critical analysis.” Other scholars and critics chimed in around the same time.1 As it happened, a tidal wave of museum studies was just beginning to crest, many proclaiming critical agendas while complaining about their absence. The problem these days is how to navigate a flood of literature on the theory, practice, politics, and history of museums” (Starns 2005).
1992 Assembly of First Nations [AFN] and Canadian Museums Association [CMA], Task Force Report on Museums and First Peoples, Turning the Page: Forging New Partnerships Between Museums and First Peoples (Ottawa: 1992).
1994 The Heard Museum hosted a conference entitled “Navajo Weaving since the Sixties” attended by forty weavers and who presented detailed statements about their work. M’Closkey (2002:230-3) noted a sharp contrast between the presentations by the weavers and those made by dealers, museologists and textile experts who spoke of gallery aesthetics, the history of Navajo weaving and the quality of market-friendly rugs. Gloria Emerson of the Centre for Cultural Exchange at a New Mexico art institution commented on the chasm between the weavers and the scholars. She argued that the weavers should be generating the questions discussed at these conferences (M’Closkey 2002:233).
1994 Today “there are several reasons to stress the importance of local museums. At the same time we find big museums growing even bigger and observe an explosion in the number of small museums all over the world . The former ICOM director Hugues de Varine calls this a big-bang in the museum world, which makes it necessary to separate museums in two very different types: the process-museum and the institution-museum, the latter being the traditional museum” (Gjestrum 1994).
1994 The Metropolitan Museum in New York strategically aligned discount rental cars with their blockbuster exhibition of American Impressionism and Realism. The rental cars allowed visitors to visit places depicted in paintings in the exhibition. See Dobrzynski, J.H. 1994-05-09. “Impressionism Rides a Rental Car.” in Business Week:52-53.
1995 The “blockbuster creed” was widely accepted in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia by museum, art gallery and science centre directors. Director of the Australian National Gallery, Betty Churcher, argued that, “[Y]ou have to keep interesting your audience with something they otherwise don’t have an opportunity to see … The bonus of the blockbuster exhibition is that they come to see the blockbuster and they stay to look at the collection, so you are getting broader exposure for your permanent collection (Watson 1995-05-24 cited in McLaughlin 1998).”
1996 A conference organized by the Department of Ethnography of the British Museum entitled “Imagining the Arctic: The Native Photograph in Alaska, Canada and Greenland” was held in London, UK. Guest speakers included George Quviq Qulaut (Commissioner for Nunavut), Hugh Brody, Nelson Graburn, Elizabeth Edwards of Oxford’s Pit River Museum, Kesler Woodward, Alan R. Marcus who “explored the relationships between government policy and images of the Ahiarmut, as backdrop to the disastrous arctic relocations of the 1950s, Peter Geller presented hia paper on “Archibald Lang Fleming, first Anglican Bishop of the Arctic, as he disseminated a fascinating view of the “Eskimo” through his publications and lantern slide lectures; this was followed by a contemporary example of northern image-making, as Zebedee Nungak presented a series of slides documenting the recent political history of northern Quebec, as carried out by photographers for the Makivik Corporation of the Inuit of Nunavik.” See Peter Geller’s report.
1997-8 Statistics Canada reports that for the year 1997/98, there were some 46,400 volunteers directly engaged in museums and related heritage institutions. This represents about 65 % of the museum workforce on a national basis, including full-time and part-time paid workers. This does not include the vast network of related organizations, such as local Friends of Museums societies, historical societies and community service organizations, all of which contribute greatly to the work of their museums. Volunteers contribute to virtually all facets of museum operations, from facility maintenance, to administration, collections management, events management and public programming. The distribution of volunteers varies greatly across the country. For example, they represent over 95 % of the work force at museums in one province.” MUSE
1998 The first exhibition entitled “First Peoples, First Contacts” at the Museum of Man’s Gallery of North America at its new location at Bloomsbury opened. It was sponsored by the powerful Chase Manhattan Bank. The exhibition tells the story of the interaction of native Americans with the outsiders. The First Nations peoples represented in the Gallery are for the most part unfamiliar even to North Americans. They are represented as “half-forgotten, disgracefully patronised, different and enduringly fascinating peoples.” The story of curious Columbus is depicted without the usual overly romanticized sentiment. He is portrayed as the first of an onslaught of the “blatantly greedy and bigoted arrivistes, colonialists, sharks and expropriators.” Gallery of North America will feature rotating temporary exhibitions and will stay in situ for at least five years. See Henshall (1999) and J. C. H. King (1998 ) First Peoples, First Contacts, Museum of Mankind, London, UK: Chase Manhattan Gallery.
1999 Meanwhile, the museum was also being thoroughly absorbed by the markets and industries of culture under late capitalism.” See EndNote entry under Krauss (1999).
1999 Rosalind Krauss (1999) published a book entitled A Voyage on the North Sea criticizing art forms like his that had in her view, become fashionably vacuous, a shibboleth– installation art. “Krauss reflects that the notion of the specificity of medium as a foundation of the modern was shaken by Broodthaers ‘s practice and by the introduction of video technology in the 1960s. She anchors her historical narrative in the writing of Greenberg and Fried (in the latter’s reading of Maurice Merleau-Ponty) and in paintings by Jackson Pollock and Color Field painters, the sculptures of Richard Serra, and the structuralist films of Michael Snow, all of which registered a ‘new idea of aesthetic medium’ in new artistic conventions of opticality, which Krauss describes as foregrounding a ‘phenomenological vector’ in art that connects an object to a viewing subject. She forwards the notion that the construction of physical structure, even within the making of film, is constitutive of modern art: “For, in order to sustain artistic practice, a medium must be a supporting structure, generative of a set of conventions, some of which, in assuming the medium itself as their subject, will be wholly specific to it, thus producing an experience of their own necessity” (26). See EndNote entry under Krauss (1999).
2000 Izzie Asper became Canada’s new media lord as head of Canwest Global Communications. “After acquiring most of Hollinger’s newspapers and magazines, including half of the National Post, Asper now stands to be the most powerful figure in the history of Canadian media. A relentlessly tough businessman, he made a rather unexpected power play to dethrone Conrad Black and, although he might not be as grandiose about it, he now has more clout within Canada than Black ever did.” (Pundit Magazine). “Today, CanWest is one of Canada’s most profitable communication companies. In fiscal 2000 its net earnings were $162 million, with revenues totalling $1.08 billion and operating profits of $263 million. In July 2000, CanWest acquired most of Canada’s leading newspapers, as well as a 50 per cent stake in one of the country’s national dailies, The National Post. Earlier that month, federal regulators approved CanWest’s purchase of eight television stations, an acquisition that created Canada’s second-largest private television network under the banner of Global TV. Long before that, the corporation had forged an international broadcasting presence in New Zealand, Australia and Ireland” (Manitoba Government).
2004 Inuit artist Isaaci Etidloie and x Ashoona, daughter of renowned carver Kiaksuk Ashoona were among the Canadian Aboriginal artists present for the opening of the exhibition entitled Dezhan ejan – “medicine song” at the art gallery of the Canadian Embassy in Washington. The opening of the exhibition jointly sponsored by the Canada Council Art Bank and the Canadian Embassy took place in conjunction with the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian () at the Smithsonian. Ruth Phillips wrote the exhibition promotional brochure. Michael Kergin, Ambassador of Canada to the United States, stated, “Dezhan ejan is an expression of the unique and vibrant culture of Canadian Aboriginal artists. The ties between Aboriginal peoples in North America are long and rich in history, and continue to grow. It is our hope that the exhibition will serve to inform and expand this relationship, not only among Aboriginal communities, but for all Canadians and Americans.” Victoria Henry, Director of the Art Bank curated the exhibition of 18 works selected from the Canada Council’s collection of aboriginal art (Canada Council Press Release 2004). MFB
Partial Webliography and Bibliography
Elsen, Albert. 1984. “Blockbusters : the pros and cons of the “blockbuster” art exhibition.” Art Museum Association of Australia. 18 p. (Occasional papers).
Rosenfield, J.R. 1993. In the Mail: Museum Catalogues, Direct Marketing. November, pp 39-40.
Watson, B. 1995-05-24. “Defending the Blockbuster.” Morning Herald. Sydney, AU.
McLaughlin, Derina. 1998. “The blockbuster phenomenon: trends in Australia and overseas.” Australasian Science and Technology: Exhibitors Network. Focus on Issues.
Filed in African Canadian history, Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Ethnography, forgetting, heimlich, History, hospitality, memory, Memory Work, social cohesion, timelines, Visual Arts, Visual.Arts
Tags: anthropologist, archontes, authenticity, Ayanna Black, blockbuster, blockbuster era, census-map-museum, CMA, ethnographer, ethnographic, ethnohistorical, Glenbow, ICOM, imagined communities, Into the Heart of Africa, Lee-Ann Martin, Maori, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, museology, museum without walls, NAGPRA, new museology, Nourbese Philip, primitivism, RCAP, repatriation, ROM, Smithsonian, The Spirit Sings, Thomas McEvilley