Collection History

I have been impressed by an answer by Benedicte Savoy to a question from Donatien Grau, ‘Doesn’t this idea of a museum forever holding up a mirror to itself risk calling into question the immediacy of experience of a work of art ?’

Savoy replies, ‘The collection history needn’t necessarily assume a dominant role, but it should be integrated into the experience of the whole. It won’t negate the visitor’s experience before the object, but without it the museum is depriving itself of a particular dimension. I don’t see why aesthetic emotion should have to be separated from historical emotion, from an understanding of the historical plinth on which we rest, in Europe for example. The museum needs to accept that it should show its wrinkles. You see a face, and if that face is all artificial intelligence inside a rubber mask, then it’s highly abstract. What I’m talking about is the opposite of a rejection of emotion; it’s a recognition of the quality of lived experience, the lived experience of the museums, the lived experience of the institutions, which are like the lived experience of a person…Many still clam up on this history, but it’s not a taboo subject’ (Grau 2021, p.177).


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