University Art Museums

In the afternoon of the CAFA Centenary Conference, we were encouraged to focus on the role and responsibilities of University Art Museums.   We started with Geoffrey Ward, the acting Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, talking about the role of the university museum as a social venue, followed by Ernst Vegelin, the Director of the Courtauld Gallery providing a spirited defence of the intellectual responsibilities of university museums, exploring the foothills as well as the mountain peaks of art history, anti-populist in its motivation, driven, like its academic peers, by new research, not visitor numbers. More common is the role of the University Art Museum as a bridge into the local community, as was vigorously expounded by Caitlin Doherty, the Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida.

Meng Xianwei described an amazing project – the Museum of Contemporary Art at Qingdao – which combines a huge museum with an artist’s village, studios, a park, a wedding hall, dunes, an apartment block, and the Qingdao campus of CAFA, all designed futuristically by Jean Nouvel. An eco museum-cum-holiday resort. A public-private investment serving both the local community, artists and tourists.

Finally, Han Haiyan described the gestation of the CAFA Art Museum in Langfang, one part only of the International Cultural Exchange Center, a huge, new town building in best neo-expressionist style:-

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3 thoughts on “University Art Museums

  1. Mark Fisher says:

    Both the Fitzwilliam and the Courtauld are, in their different ways, outstanding examples of University Museums, but what is happening in China is something quite different. We need to look very carefully at that, and see how it can be incorporated into European museums.

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