Between the Discursive and the Immersive

A Symposium on Research in the 21st Century Art Museum


The conference Between the Discursive and the Immersive was held at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art 3-4 December 2015. Organized jointly with the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the conference aimed to stimulate a critical debate on the potentialities of art museums as research based institutions. Research occupies a greater and more autonomous role in modern and contemporary art museums than ever. This independent, often interdisciplinary form of programming has led to discussions of a “curatorialization of education” or a “discursive turn” in the museum sector. At the same time, a major part of the knowledge production in twentyfirst century art museums results in exhibitions and collection displays created to offer audiences unique sensorial or immersive experiences. Museums are thus increasingly embracing a synaesthetic dispositif, an experiential model of curating, to engage their publics.

On this background, this conference aims to create a forum for discussing models for research that take into account the institutional specificities of modern and contemporary art museums. How can exhibitions function as mediums for research? How can artistic research contribute to art museums? What is the research value of (immersive) exhibitions? What is the role of the sensory experience in gathering and disseminating knowledge in the museum? What is the function of “public programs” as curatorial models for research? How do audiences contribute to the museum’s knowledge production?

Organizing committee:

Marie Laurberg, Curator & Head of Research, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Irene Campolmi, PhD Fellow, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Margriet Shavemaker, Manager of Education, Interpretation and Publication, Stedelijk Museum
Hendrik Folkerts, Curator, Documenta 14

Supported by:

Danish Agency for Culture
Novo Nordisk Foundation
Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
Aarhus University

Jeroen Boomgaard
Theme: Practice as Research
The Museum as Location of Research: The Creator Doctus Model

Art museum research has usually operated within the field of classical art-historical scholarship. However, contemporary art seems to potentially offer a less traditional research approach. This paper proposes a new format for artists to conduct research that could compensate for this research gap. The Creator Doctus research profile is a research education, but, unlike PhD Programs, it does not focus on the discursive part of the research, the thesis, but on the artistic work as the final research outcome. Such a program could turn museums of contemporary art into new centers of research, offering curators a new chance to get a research degree on the basis of their practice.

Dr. Jeroen Boomgaard is Assistant Professor of Art History and head of the Research Master program Artistic Research at the University of Amsterdam. He is Professor of Art and Public Space at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam and heads the research centre LAPS. In 2011 he published Wild Park. Commissioning the Unexpected, about the role of art, and “The Chimera of Method” in See it Again, Say it Again. The Artist as Researcher, about artistic research as a method.

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