The Discursive Museum:
Installations, Interpretations, and Institutional Authority
The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) welcomes James Cuno, Ph.D., President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, to the IUPUI campus as part of its CTL Winter Lecture Series. This lecture series honors nationally recognized scholars who have made a contribution to their discipline as well as teaching and learning within their discipline.
Over the past twenty-five years, art museums have become extraordinarily popular. According to The Art Newspaper, the top thirty most popular exhibitions of 2009 attracted 12,361,882 people, while the Association of [North American] Art Museum Directors reported a total 2009 attendance of just over 42 million at its top 100 museums. They have also become the subject of considerable academic scrutiny and criticism.
During his lecture, Cuno will argue against the prevailing academic critique of museums as instruments of the state and forces for the propagation of the hegemony of the financial and political elite. "Museums are public institutions open to all. We invite our visitors in and let them wander as they wish. They make their own way through our collections, drawn to individual works of art that attract their attention," Cuno said. "They, our visitors, and not the museum, are the authors of their experiences with our collections. And while we are right to characterize their experiences as narratives, they do not constitute meta-narratives, or comprehensive explanations of historical experience or knowledge. The sheer, stubborn, matter-of-factness of works of art resist such narrative inflation."
- Reception: 4:30pm to 5:30pm
- Lecture: 5:30pm to 7pm
- Book Signing: 7pm to 7:30pm
James Cuno has been President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute of Chicago since September 2004. Previously he served as Professor and Director of the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London from 2002-2004, and as Professor and Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard University Art Museums from 1991-2002.
A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, James Cuno has written and lectured widely on topics ranging from French caricature of the 18th and 19th centuries to contemporary American art, as well as on the role of art museums in contemporary American cultural policy. He is the author of Whose Culture?: The Promise of Museums and the Debate Over Antiquities (Princeton University Press, March 2009) and Who Owns Antiquity?: Museums and the Battle Over Our Ancient Heritage (Princeton University Press, May 2008). A top flight scholar, with a remarkable reputation here and abroad, he writes extensively on the role of museums – the current state and future of American art museums.