Louvre Abu Dhabi and New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), two leading institutions at the heart of Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, will co-convene for the first time a virtual symposium open to the public entitled Reframing Museums.
The symposium, taking place from November 16 – 18, 2020, will address the new responsibilities and challenges facing museums today, as well as showcase innovative opportunities. The symposium will harness the collective contributions of global scholars, academics, established and emerging artists, and international museum experts to discuss, interrogate, and reimagine the art museum of the future. Together attendees will examine three institutional pillars that typically define museums: Collections, Building/Site, and People. Registration to the virtual symposium, which is open to the public, is live online.
The Reframing Museums agenda will be driven by a multiplicity of global voices. Initiated through an industry-wide open call, timely challenges and solutions will be crowdsourced prior to the symposium, amplifying diverse voices in this global discussion.
...We acknowledge that now, more than ever, museums are vital in providing comfort, empathy, and understanding to communities during difficult timesManuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi
On the importance of co-hosting this symposium, Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi commented: “As we mark Louvre Abu Dhabi’s third anniversary this November, we acknowledge that now, more than ever, museums are vital in providing comfort, empathy, and understanding to communities during difficult times. Necessary conversations around sustainability, accessibility, education as well as diversity and inclusion, compel museums to question the status-quo and to revisit the cultural canon. These are urgent questions and complex challenges that can only be addressed with inclusive dialogue. Working alongside our partners and neighbors at New York University Abu Dhabi, we will bring together rising and renowned art historians, scholars, curators, and industry experts from across the world to discuss, interrogate, and reimagine the art museum of the future. We invite everyone to be part of this important discussion.”
Mariët Westermann, Vice Chancellor of New York University Abu Dhabi said: "NYU Abu Dhabi is delighted to partner with the Louvre Abu Dhabi in hosting a lively symposium probing the present and future of museums. Many of the challenges museums are facing today were problems well before COVID-19, but the pandemic has forced all museum directors, curators, users, and funders to address them head on. Who and what are museums for? How can the museum compete with the virtual resources of the digital age? What is the museum's relevance for people who had little or no say in their creation? How can collections of compromised or uncertain provenance ever play a legitimate role in a museum? Can museums compete with entertainment? Can museums revision what is included in their local or global remit, and find new purpose by healing the exclusions of the past?
Abu Dhabi is the right place for this global conversation, even in virtual spaceMariët Westermann, Vice Chancellor of New York University Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is the right place for this global conversation, even in virtual space. In 2010, when NYU Abu Dhabi was on the cusp of opening and the vision for the Louvre Abu Dhabi just taking shape, we hosted Art Museums Here and Now - a symposium that asked what new museums might be in the UAE, and what established museums from around the world would do if they could reimagine themselves from the ground up. Ten years on, we are thrilled to engage dozens of museum leaders, curators, scholars, and artists to ask these questions with a renewed sense of urgency and possibility."
Global luminaries confirmed as roundtable participants in these discussions include HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak (Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi), Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi (Sharjah Art Foundation), David Wrisley (NYUAD), Eugene Tan (Singapore Art Museum), Kaywin Feldman (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC), Max Hollein (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), Mikhail Piotrovsky (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg), and Yang Zhigang (Shanghai Museum).
Keynote speakers will include Jean-Luc Martinez (President, Musée du Louvre), among many others, and Manuel Rabaté and Mariët Westermann will also engage in an opening and closing discussion on each day of the symposium.
The discussions, themed around three institutional pillars, Collections, Building/Site, and People, will be explored through roundtables and the presentation of case studies. The Collections pillar will address the current move from collection building to collection sharing, including the shift of focus from acquisition to storytelling, the exchange and collaboration between museums in light of the pandemic, and the reinvention of copy culture in the digital age. Roundtables around Building/Site will focus on whether the physical spaces of a museum serve the current context and how new civic roles that museums are being asked to fill, can or should transform the museum space. The third discussion pillar—People—will center around the question “whose museum?”, including issues of ownership, inclusion, and new civic roles of museums that reflect the peoples, histories, and realities of the diverse communities they serve. With the notion of ownership and expertise being called into question, how can museums stay relevant in our rapidly changing world?
Louvre Abu Dhabi and NYU Abu Dhabi are both exploring and implementing new models for the future. The museum through its innovative curation, programmes, and platforms, and the University through its multidisciplinary research and education of undergraduate and graduate students as well as its support of young and emerging artists. Reframing Museums will mark the third anniversary of Louvre Abu Dhabi as well as the tenth anniversary for NYU Abu Dhabi and its seminal symposium “Art Museums Here and Now”.
For more information on the symposium and registration, please visit the symposium website. The event is free and open to the public.