The Art Museum in Modern Times

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Drawing on his unique experience at the helm of three major British art institutions, Charles Saumarez Smith traces how art museums across the world have changed over the past eighty years

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ISBN: 9780500022436 Category:

Charles Saumarez Smith

Description

The National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy all saw either radical architectural interventions or rethinks of their mission under Charles Saumarez Smith’s leadership, making him uniquely qualified to explore the ways in which art museums have changed over the past century and examine where they might be headed in the future.

For this book, Saumarez Smith has undertaken an odyssey to art museums across the globe. From Tate Modern in London to the Benesse House Museum on the Japanese island of Naoshima; from the Getty Center in Los Angeles to the Museum of New and Old Art, a ferry-ride from Hobart in Tasmania; from the Pompidou Centre in Paris to the West Bund Museum in Shanghai – he has visited them all, casting an acute eye on the way the experience of art is shaped by the buildings that house it and the organizing principles by which it is displayed.

What has changed over the past century? Where the public once visited museums to be educated in art history, he argues, they are now more likely to be in search of a private, aesthetic experience. Museum displays that were automatically didactic, chronological and either national or Western in viewpoint are now thematic and global. While museums used to be invariably in city centres, they may now be in remote locations, destinations of cultural pilgrimage. And where architects once created neutral spaces in which to display art, they now build spectacular architectural landmarks, stamping an identity on run-down neighbourhoods and sparking regeneration through cultural tourism.

Additional information

Weight 762 g
Dimensions 16.3 x 24.2 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 25 March 2021
Number of pages 272
Format Hardback
Dimensions 16.3 x 24.2 cm
Weight 762 g

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Charles Saumarez Smith was Director of the UK's National Portrait Gallery 1994-2002, Director of the National Gallery 2002-2007 and Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy 2007-2018. He is the author of East London; The Company of Artists: The Origins of the Royal Academy of Arts in London; and The National Gallery: A Short History, among other titles.