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Guest Column: Exhibition Practices

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020


What the public gets to see of museums is in the exhibitions in which their holdings are presented; beyond the archival functions of conservation, categorization, and restoration, this presentation is at the heart of museums as cultural institutions. Until a few decades ago, exhibitions were predictable in format and structure. Visitors attended monographic and period exhibitions to be instructed and to enjoy themselves according to the old adage of utile dulci. Every exhibition was an episode in a traditional conception of the management of art's relation to the public. Curators were also conservators; they studied, preserved, and categorized art objects and presented a selection of these according to the knowledge acquired. The space in which the objects were presented was kept as neutral as possible, so as not to disturb the viewer.

Research Article
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2010

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