Strategies of Display: Museum Presentation in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-century Visual Culture

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Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, 2004 - Art - 287 pages
In today's culture, which hinges so much on visual spectacle, museums are reassessing their role and function as centers for entertainment and education. Should museums respond to the demand for staging "events" or should they join rank as guardians of our cultural heritage? Is the collection key, or should the museum focus on responding to public demand? "Strategies of Display contributes to this very current debate through a historical consideration of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, renowned as far back as the 19th century for having the best interior layout of all Dutch museums. After moving to a new building in 1935, the museum gained national and international recognition as a milestone in modern museum architecture, due to its clearly designed floor-plan, well-lit and sober galleries with refined presentations and, most especially, its innovative lighting. Comparing the innovative exhibitions held at this Rotterdam museum with developments at other museums clarifies how its innovations in exhibition design were representative for and sometimes way ahead of techniques used in institutions such as the Rijksmuseurn in Amsterdam, the Museum of Natural History in London, the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Unique visual documentation literally captures this history in images, and comparisons with contemporaneous shop and department store displays provides crucial contextualization.

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