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What is the Museum? Who is a Curator? In the age of Social Media in Copenhagen…

Posted on | November 22, 2009 | 9 Comments

Long time no listen! I haven’t been able to podcast in a while as my ‘free’ time has been consumed with developing a website for Curator Journal, for which I’ve just taken on the role of Digital Editor, writing a couple of articles and preparing for several lectures I’ve given recently.

Here is a podcast of the first one I’ve been able to edit together so far (or find it on iTunes); the slides are here. It was delivered at the conference: Event Culture The Museum and Its Staging of Contemporary Art at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art on November 7, 2009. The conference was brilliantly conceived and put together by Rune Gade and Jesper Rasmussen from the Copenhagen Doctoral School of Cultural Studies, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies.

The conference also gave me the opportunity to visit Copenhagen and about 11 of its museums and cultural sites for the first time! My favorite was the Glyptoteket – perhaps the best sculpture experience of my life, with a gorgeous ‘Winter Garden’ courtyard. Here are some pictures; check out the crazy turn of the 20th century French sculpture, and the Louise Bourgeois that apparently moves around the museum! I love her in the Rodin gallery, as if to vindicate Camille Claudel…

The conference really made me want to go back and spend some time working with and learning from the museum professionals and academics I met there. In particular, I’m keen to visit the ARoS after hearing a presentation about it from Jesper. They are doing some really innovative things in contemporary art curation: see Sense City, where “the spectator takes center stage,” and Art City, where you walk down a city street, seeing the art representing elements you might find in a city, displayed as if in their natural places along the streets and square. No labels! I’ll add a link when Jesper publishes his paper about these installations.

Until then, thanks to all who organized and attended the conference!


9 Responses to “What is the Museum? Who is a Curator? In the age of Social Media in Copenhagen…”

  1. George Oates
    November 23rd, 2009 @ 1:37 am

    Nancy, that’s a lovely way to think of it. Call and response to Amazing Grace 🙂

  2. nancyproctor
    November 23rd, 2009 @ 6:03 am

    Thanks so much for your comment, George! That you liked it means an awful lot!

  3. George Oates
    November 23rd, 2009 @ 7:29 pm

    Haha – no problemo!

    I even found myself singing along while I was listening 🙂

    But seriously, while it paints a nice picture of groups collaborating, it also puts curators in the “callers” seat, which is where they should be.

  4. Cath
    November 26th, 2009 @ 9:35 pm

    Nancy, those are wonderful thoughts.

    Your observation that museums have shifted from the Acropolis to the agora inspires me to think more about how Web 2.0 has changed Foucault’s notion of museums as heterotopia. Are they any longer ‘other places’ if they are out there in the town square?

    I also appreciate the idea of the curator as leader of a call-and-response song. My mental association was immnediately with kirtan, another form of spiritual singing. Interesting, in the sense that museums are often conceived as secular-yet-spiritual spaces.

  5. nancyproctor
    November 27th, 2009 @ 10:42 pm

    Thank you, Cath, for bringing these threads together & introducing me to kirtan! The ‘Acroplis to Agora’ phrase comes from Steven Zucker from FIT and htp:// (You can hear more from him here: ) I am inspired to review my Foucault now; there is something important about the spiritual – or at least pilgrimage – nature of the museum experience, and I would like to understand its relationship to the ‘real’ and virtual manifestations of the museum better. I look forward to continuing the conversation!

  6. MuseumMobile Wiki » Is quality ‘only’ in the eye of the beholder?
    February 21st, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    […] am especially interested right now in questions like “What is a Museum? Who is a Curator? In the age of social media.” Particularly in fine art contexts, we see a lot of tension between the expertise of the […]

  7. Robert Connolly
    April 23rd, 2010 @ 6:57 am

    Recently came across your podcast and enjoy immensely. I will use this particular podcast this fall in my graduate seminar at the University of Memphis – Museum Practices

  8. nancyproctor
    April 23rd, 2010 @ 11:14 am

    Hi Robert,
    I’m so glad you found the podcast helpful to you & your students! I’d love to hear their feedback; I always learn so much from students!

    Best regards,

  9. Lasse Nielsen
    June 16th, 2011 @ 3:43 am

    I’m very happy to read that you enjoyed Glyptoteket.
    Recently we launched a new Facebook page. With more pictures from our museum. At the moment we are posting a series of historical images from the museum. Feel free to join:

    All the best

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