“Between the DISCURSIVE and the IMMERSIVE: a symposium on research in 21st-century art museums”

“Between the DISCURSIVE and the IMMERSIVE: a symposium on research in 21st-century art museums”

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Image courtesy of Louisiana Museum of Art.
March 30, 2015
“Between the DISCURSIVE and the IMMERSIVE: a symposium on research in 21st-century art museums”

3–4 December 2015

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Gammel Strandvej 13
3050 Humlebæk


Organized by Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Aarhus University

Research occupies a greater and more autonomous role in the modern and contemporary art museum than ever. No longer restricted to supporting exhibitions and the collection, this type of knowledge production in the museum has become an independent, often interdisciplinary form of programming with its own curators and budget. In this regard, Paul O’Neill talks of a “curatorialization of education” and Miwon Kwon of a “discursive turn” in the museum sector. At the same time, a major part of the knowledge production in the 21st-century art museum results in the creation of spectacular exhibitions and collection displays, designed to offer audiences a unique and immersive experience. Whereas didactic exhibitions and the focus of collection preservation may have previously prevailed, museums are thus increasingly embracing a synaesthetic dispositif, an experiential model of curating, to engage their publics.

Moreover, what to think of the growing participation of the public in the selection, presentation and interpretation of art in museums? And the increasing use of new media technologies such as online video, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share curatorial knowledge? In other words: knowledge production in museums of modern and contemporary art oscillates between the discursive and the immersive.

In this landscape of changing paradigms of museum programming and institutional outlook, the alliances between museums and universities are solidified. In the past years, governmental policies are encouraging, if not demanding academia to get out of its ivory tower and “valorize” itself by collaborating with partners beyond the conventional outreach of the university.

Thus, the modern and contemporary art museum has become an increasingly interesting partner for academic teaching and university research programs. This is in many ways a welcome and timely development; however, museums should consider that this does not merely lead to an “academic turn,” in terms of measuring the research output of a museum solely on the number of peer-reviewed articles published by its staff. On the contrary: it should result in more knowledge about, and development of the specific potentialities of museums to produce knowledge at the intersection of academic discourse, artistic inquiry and artistic research, the display of objects, and the broad publics addressed by museums; the institutional specificities the modern and contemporary art museum.


The conference 
The organizers of the conference aim to stimulate a critical debate on the potentialities of the art museum as a research-based institution—between the discursive and the immersive. The conference will focus on the significance of hybrid forms of research and curating in modern and contemporary art museums, dealing with questions such as: How can exhibitions function as mediums for research? How can artistic research contribute to art museums? What is the research value of (immersive) exhibitions? What is the role of the sensory experience in gathering and disseminating knowledge in the museum? What is the function and position of “public programs” as curatorial models for research and knowledge production? What does the public contribute to the museum’s knowledge production?

The conference welcomes theoretically founded contributions as well as practice-based contributions that contribute with model cases or concrete experiments in the field.

A selection of the contributions to the conference will be shared in forthcoming issue of Stedelijk Studies, the new online peer-reviewed journal of the Stedelijk Museum.


Call for papers 
In addition to keynote lectures and panel discussions, the organization welcomes “Pecha Kucha-style” papers as contributions to this conference on the following topics:
– Theoretical versus sensorial/experiential knowledge
– Museum research and the “medium specificity” of the institution
– Research-based exhibitions: models, topics, strategies, experiments
– Innovative ways of integrating research and collection display
– Knowledge production in the “user-generated age”
– Discursive/educational turn and growing role of public/interpretation programs
– The impact of new media on the development and communication of museum research

These contributions should be eight minutes long and share an interesting topical case study or thought based on a maximum of 16 slides.

The call for papers for this conference is open to both institutional and independent curators and researchers. For the “Pecha Kucha-style” papers, applicants are expected to submit abstracts of 300 words (plus short resume of 150 words) as a word or PDF document.

Abstracts for the “Pecha Kucha-style” papers should be emailed before 15 May to [email protected]

A committee comprised of representatives of the organizing institutions will assess the abstracts by the end of May and determine the final selection.


Confirmed keynote speakers:
Francesco Manacorda, Director, TATE Liverpool
Maria Finders, Creative Director and Cultural Advisory at Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA, Rotterdam)
Glenn Adamson, Artistic Director, MAD Museum of Art and Design, New York (USA)
Anselm Franke, Head of Visual Arts and Film, Haus de Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
Chus Martínez, Head of the Institute, FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel
Johanna Burton, Director and Curator of Education and Public Programme, New Museum, New York
Molly Nesbit, Professor of Art History, Vassar College


Questions about the conference can be addressed to Irene Campolmi at [email protected].

Registration will be possible through our website until November 25 2015. A limited number of travel bursaries will be available for people travelling from countries outside Europe. Please checked the website for updates and contact the organizers for more information.


Organizing Committee: 
Marie Laurberg, Curator at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Dr. Margriet Schavemaker, Head of Research at the Stedelijk Museum
Irene Campolmi, PhD Fellow at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Hendrik Folkerts, Curator, dOCUMENTA 14
Jacob Wamberg, Professor in Art History, Aarhus University


"Between the DISCURSIVE and the IMMERSIVE": a symposium at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen

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March 30, 2015

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