After Critique: Museums in the World

 October 15 - 16, 2004

This colloquium, convened by Ivan Gaskell and Michael Conforti, brought together museum directors, economists, social scientists, and art historians to discuss the place of the museum after institutional critique. Criticism over the last twenty years has revealed a variety of weaknesses and complicities that in some respects compromise the supposed ethical and aesthetic purity and disinterestedness of art museums. Equally, art museums continue to exhibit a variety of strengths. Why have art museums survived and become stronger, in spite of the criticisms they attract? What are those strengths, and how have they developed? Does the demonstrable success of art museums equip them to meet emerging social, ethical, economic, scholarly, and aesthetic needs in a rapidly globalizing world?

Participants included: Graham W.J. Beal (The Detroit Institute of Art), David Carrier (Case Western Reserve University & Cleveland Institute of Art), Paul Carter (University of Melbourne), Michael Conforti (director, the Clark), Anne Eaton (Bucknell University), Adrian Ellis (AEA Consulting), Ivan Gaskell (Harvard University), Michael R. Leaman (Reaktion Books, Ltd), Andrew McClellan (Tufts University), Helen Molesworth (The Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University), Charles Saumarez Smith (The National Gallery, London, UK), Stephen C. Sheppard (Williams College), Robert Storr (Institute of Fine Arts, New York University), and Rubie Watson (Harvard University).