cover of book

Under Discussion: The Encyclopedic Museum
edited by Donatien Grau
J. Paul Getty Trust, The
Paper: 978-1-60606-719-2 | eISBN: 978-1-60606-720-8
Library of Congress Classification AM7
Dewey Decimal Classification 069

In almost thirty interviews, Donatien Grau probes some of the world’s most prominent thinkers and preeminent arts leaders on the past, present, and future of the encyclopedic museum.

Over the last two decades, the encyclopedic museum has been criticized and praised, constantly discussed, and often in the news. Encyclopedic museums are a phenomenon of Europe and the United States, and their locations and mostly Eurocentric collections have in more recent years drawn attention to what many see as bias. Debates on provenance in general, cultural origins, and restitutions of African heritage have exerted pressure on encyclopedic museums, and indeed on all matter of museums. Is there still a place for an institution dedicated to gathering, preserving, and showcasing all the world’s cultures?

Donatien Grau’s conversations with international arts officials, museum leaders, artists, architects, and journalists go beyond the history of the encyclopedic format and the last decades’ issues that have burdened existing institutions. Are encyclopedic museums still relevant? What can they contribute when the Internet now seems to offer the greater encyclopedia? How important is it for us to have in-person access to objects from all over the world that can directly articulate something to us about humanity? The fresh ideas and nuances of new voices on the core principles important to museums in Dakar, Abu Dhabi, and Mumbai complement some of the world’s arts leaders from European and American institutions—resulting in some revealing and unexpected answers. Every interviewee offers differing views, making for exciting, stimulating reading.

Includes interviews with Marc Fumaroli, Collège de France; Partha Chatterjee, Columbia University; Krzysztof Pomian, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales; Mikhail Piotrovsky, State Hermitage Museum; Philippe de Montebello, New York University; Grayson Perry, artist; Thomas Campbell, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Kaywin Feldman, National Gallery of Art; Mari Carmen Ramírez, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Irina Bokova, UNESCO; Fiammetta Rocco, The Economist; Zaki Nusseibeh, United Arab Emirates; Michael Govan, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Max Hollein, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Sabyasachi Mukherjee, CSMVB Mumbai; Henri Loyrette, Museé du Louvre; George Abungu, National Museums of Kenya; Hamady Bocoum, Museé des Civilisationes Noires, Dakar; Amit Sood, Google Arts & Culture; James Cuno, J. Paul Getty Trust; Jean Nouvel, architect; Bénédicte Savoy; Kavita Singh, Jawarhlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Anthony Appiah, New York University; Homi Bhabha, Harvard University; Camille Henrot, artist; Massimiliano Gioni, New Museum; and Bachir Souleymane Diagne, Columbia University.
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