Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi, Venice

It is assumed that many art museums, through their collections and artistic programming, have historically reflected the idea of a «universal art history, a master narrative of modernism, which is now widely considered bound to specificities of time and place» (CIMAM conference, Barcelona, 2016).

This assumption raises a number of questions including:
▪ Who wrote the «universal art history» and what were the cultural, political and social origins of this narrative?
▪ Did globalisation challenge this «universal narrative»? If so, to what extent?
▪ Are some art museums still part of a «universal narrative»? If yes, what outcomes must they address to respect the specificities of their contexts?
▪ In the absence of a shared «universal narrative», who determines the perspective that a museum adopts in a specific time and place?
▪ If micro-narratives allow for different perspectives, what are the common aims and responsibilities of art museums today?
▪ Mindful of the fields of interests and/or influences to which museums are exposed, what (self-defined) role can they play within a community's identity-forming process?

These and other questions emerge in a time of growing populism, anti-intellectualism and commodification in European societies. This situation makes it difficult for museums to fulfil their fundamental tasks of preserving memory, transmitting knowledge and safeguarding present artistic heritage. Taking this into consideration, to what extent can museums still achieve their «historical roles» today? What are the new factors for their roles in mutating contemporary societies?

The symposium, commissioned by the Government of the Principality of Liechtenstein for its presence at the 2017 Venice Biennale, will launch a discussion based on the presentation of six case studies of European art museums.

Each presentation, lasting 30 minutes, will develop both the cultural, historical, social and political context of the art museum in order to understand the conflicting powers in play, and the tensions they represent in the institution's tasks. The symposium will focus on the difficulties faced by museums and on the models they have established to develop innovative roles for themselves within the on-going process of identity-building as it relates to their contexts. The symposium aims to contribute to the understanding of the real situations, solutions and limits of museum practice today and to examine shared, transmissible professional standards.

Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi
Campo S. Agnese – Dorsoduro 810
30123 Venice
Vaporetto Stop: Zattere / Accademia

Zoran Erić, Belgrade
Hélène Guenin, Nice
Alistair Hudson, Middlesbrough
Enrico Lunghi, Luxembourg
Jérémie McGowan, Tromsø
Jarosław Suchan, Łódź

Commissioned by
Government of the Principality of Liechtenstein

Project Management
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein

Curated by
Enrico Lunghi in cooperation with Zoran Erić and Friedemann Malsch

Supported by
Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia (providing the space)
Liechtenstein Cultural Foundation

Please RSVP, limited seats available