Curating Secret Rivers
Thomas Ardill, Museum of London
Monday 21st October, 6pm
Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square
In this illustrated talk, Thomas Ardill will discuss co-curating the Secret Rivers exhibition at Museum of London Docklands. Thomas will explain the Museum of London’s exhibition-making process from programming to design and installation, and reflect on the experience of co-curating with an archaeological curator including the collaborative process, the challenges of putting on a multimedia display and what he has learned by curating an art collection in a social history museum.
Dr Thomas Ardill joined the Museum of London in 2016 as Curator of Paintings, Prints and Drawings having previously worked at the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Britain. In addition to co-curating Secret Rivers, he has curated displays on the relationship between art and charity in William Macduff’s painting Shaftesbury, or Lost and Found, 1862, and a competition and display of night photography in London (Dark Corners, 2018). He has undertaken extensive upgrading of the Museum’s art collection records and is currently working with Kate Sumnall and other colleagues on future displays at the Museum of London’s new site at West Smithfield.
The Critical Museum Debate Continues
Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius, Birkbeck
Monday 11 November, 6–7.30pm
Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square
The project of the Critical Museum – the art institution which uses its own resources, including its collection, its range of activities and its “auratic” space, for encouraging and hosting the debates on the issues that are crucial for contemporary societies – was one of the boldest and socially most significant battles undertaken by Piotr Piotrowski, when invited to run the National Museum in Warsaw in 2009. The Critical Museum project, underscored by the transnational attitude of the engaged intellectual, formed part and parcel of Piotrowski’s long-standing campaign against the prevalent discourses of contemporary art history and, in particular, against the hierarchical artistic geography, eulogising masterpieces, and marginalising the arts of East Central Europe. However, it was not just the art historical canon which was the target. Piotrowski’s museum was devised, first and foremost, as a forum, as an active agent in the public sphere, the venue for exhibiting art and discussing society, deliberately contributing to the process of defending democracy and its values, digging up difficult memories, juxtaposing conflicting narratives, empowering the disempowered, with a special attention given to the rights of minorities. The programme led to a seismic shake-up, far beyond the corridors of Polish museums. As stressed by Piotrowski, the realisation of the Critical Museum model was not only the most desirable, but indeed solely possible outside the realm of the West, in East Central Europe. Although the project was aborted, the field has been realigned and the discussion about the Critical Museums continues. The paper will discuss the origins and the premises, as well as the aftermath of the Critical Museum project.
Dr Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius teaches art history at Birkbeck College, University of London. Before her arrival in the UK in 1993, she was Curator of Italian Paintings (1981-90) and Chief Curator of The National Museum in Warsaw (1992-93). She returned as its Deputy Director in 2009-11. Recipient of the Henry Moore Institute Research Fellowship, and the Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, she lectured in various universities and art institutions in Europe and the US, including Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte at the Humboldt Universität Berlin: she was Guest-Professor there in 2009, and Rudolf-Arnheim Professor in 2013/14. Her publications include: Europäische Malerei aus dem Nationalmuseum Warschau (Braunschweig 1988); Trionfo barocco (Gorizia 1990); Borders in Art: Revisiting Kunstgeographie (Warsaw 2000); National Museum in WarsawGuide: Galleries and Study Collections (Warsaw 2001, with Dorota Folga-Januszewska); Jan Matejko’s “Battle of Grunwald”: New Approaches (Warsaw 2010); Kantor was Here: Tadeusz Kantor in Great Britain (London 2011, with Natalia Zarzecka), From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum (Farnham, Ashgate 2015, Routledge 2017), co-edited with Piotr Piotrowski. Her current research is on imaging Eastern Europe.
Concealed Histories: Uncovering the Story of Nazi Looting
Jacques Schuhmacher, V&A
Friday 13 December, 5–7pm
Victoria & Albert Museum
Join the V&A’s Provenance Curator on a behind-the-scenes tour of the special display ‘Concealed Histories’, which uncovers the history behind several fascinating objects of incredible craftsmanship that take us to the heart of the Nazis’ looting of art across Europe. Learn about the V&A’s efforts to identify objects in its care which were sold under duress or stolen under Nazi rule so that they can be returned to the families of the victims. The tour will shine a light on the difficult task of communicating this complex and deeply unsettling research to visitors from around the globe.
Jacques Schuhmacher is the Provenance and Spoliation Curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum. He is a historian of Nazi Germany and the Second World War and holds a PhD from the University of Oxford.
(Please note: this is a booking-only event and places are strictly limited. The meeting point will be confirmed after booking.)