International Conference: Curating the Contemporary in the Art Museum

12. März 2020 - 13. März 2020, SMK - National Gallery of Denmark & the University of Copenhagen

The idea of the art museum has undergone radical changes after 1945, expressed in a whole array of new ways to stage its space, curate its exhibitions, and interact with its audiences. These developments generally orient the museum and its practices towards the contemporary in all its plural meanings. The aim of this conference is to investigate the museum of art as a place, where the contemporary is staged – in exhibitions, collecting practices, communication, and policies. How did the interplay between the museum and the curated thematic exhibition evolve? Which models for rethinking the museum in relation to the contemporary has been proposed? How has the museum been reimagined as a new kind of Bildung institution? How do national galleries rethink themselves in new national, international and/or global ways to (re)present the contemporary? The conference will focus on the period after 1945: how did the museum of art gain a new position in the societies settling after WW2 and what developments can be recognized, and, potentially shed a new light on art history and art’s significance today? The focus is international to spur an exchange of different perspectives and highlight exchanges and circulations as key factors in the curating of the contemporary.



The conference fee is 450 DKK (60 EUR) for two days conference including lunch, coffee breaks and closing reception.

Register for the conference at: https://hum.nemtilmeld.dk/48/


For further inquiries, please contact: Kristian Handberg, handberg@hum.ku.dk




Day 1, Thursday March 12th. SMK – National Gallery of Denmark (Auditorium).


9.30: Coffee and registration

10.00-10.15: Welcome and introduction by Camilla Jalving on behalf of SMK and the organizers

10.15-11.00: Keynote lecture by Beatrice von Bismarck

11.00-11.15: Short break

11.15-12.30: Panel 1: National Galleries and the Contemporary  • Sebastian Mühl: Moderna Galerija: The national gallery as a site of self-historicization  • Stephanie Carwin: Modern to Contemporary (Tate Modern)  • Jennifer Warren: A new Institution in the shell of the old? MACBA and so-called “New Institutionalism”

 • Marianne Torp: Contemporary Commissions within SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark

12.30-13.30: Lunch

13.30-14.15: Keynote lecture by Karen Archey: After Institutions: How should museums be?

14.15-14.30: Short break

14.30-15.30: Panel 2: Politics of Curating the Contemporary  • Nicola Foster: Contemporary Curatorial Approaches: Re-staging Black models at the Musee d'Orsay (26 Mar 2019 – 21 Jul 2019)  • Signe Meisner Christensen: Jorn, Art and Economy: Politics of the contemporary  • Nanne Buurmann: Whitewashing/Freezeframing: documenta and the Musealization of the Contemporary

15.30-16.00: Coffee

16.00-17.00: Panel 3: Institutional Cases  • Tamar Mayer: Curating the Contemporary in Tel Aviv: between the Museum and the Gallery,  • Annette Loeseke: The Politics of Contemporary Art Museums. Calouste Gulbenkian's Modern Collection in Lisbon  • Sabrina de Turk: The Louvre Abu Dhabi: A Case Study in Contemporary Cultural Diplomacy

17.00-17.15: Round-up


Day 2, Friday March 13th University of Copenhagen, South Campus, Room 22.0.11


9.45-10.15: Coffee

10.15-11.00: Keynote lecture by Malene Vest Hansen

11.-11.15: Short break

11.15-12.30: Panel 4: Curating the Contemporary in the Postwar Era  • Kristina Kratz-Kessemeier: Kronprinzenpalais, Novembergruppe, and Bauhaus. How the Weimar Republic Art Policy Paved the Way for the Contemporary Art Museum after 1945  • Maria Bremer: Whose Arte contemporanea? The Galleria Nazionale in Rome in the Post-War Time  • Pella Myrstener: What was “the Contemporary” in “the Art Museum”? Studying the archives in Stockholm and Gothenburg 1945-1969  • Kristian Handberg: SMK and Louisiana: Museums and international exhibitions 1942-1968

12.30-13.30: Lunch

13.30-14.10: Keynote Lecture by Kim West

14.10-14.40: Panel 5: Sixties Experiments  • Tominga O’Donnell: Harald Szeemann and Ole Henrik Moe – the curatorial evolution of ‘Our World of Things – Objects’ (1970)  • Katarina Macleod: Curating the contrary  • Laura E. Dudley: Palle Nielsen’s The Model - A Model for a Qualitative Society

14.40-15.00: Coffee

15.00-15.45: Keynote lecture by Jonas Ekeberg

15.45-16.15: Concluding remarks

16.15-17.00: Closing reception


Conference committee

Malene Vest Hansen (Associate Professor, University of Copenhagen), Kristian Handberg (Postdoc, University of Copenhagen) and Camilla Jalving (Deputy Director of Collections, Research and Conservation, SMK – National Gallery of Denmark).


The conference is part of the research project Curating the Contemporary.

Funded by Independent Research Council Denmark.


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