Symposium: The Public Object

From H-ArtHist:

The Public Object: Facing Contemporary Challenges in the Art Museum

February 01, 2008
10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.
Baltimore, Maryland

Today's museums face the challenging task of balancing traditional, object-based demands with contemporary, audience-driven ones. Many things are at stake, including the public's sense of engagement with art, the status of museum-based scholarship, and the integrity of the object. These matters concern not just museum professionals, but critics, academics, artists, and museum visitors.

"The Public Object" takes as its starting point the question of whether the
primary responsibility of museums is to audiences and their values or to the
objects themselves. Participants will explore, through formal presentations
and discussion, how collections of historical objects can work as thinking
spaces for the present and future.

"The Public Object" is organized by the Walters Art Museum and the Program in
Museums and Society at Johns Hopkins University.


Morning session (10 a.m.-noon):

Stephen Campbell, Chair, Department of the History of Art, Johns Hopkins
Introductory Remarks/Moderator

Peter Parshall, Curator of Old Master Prints, National Gallery of Art,
Washington, D.C., "The Disembodied Object: A Brief History,"

Elizabeth Rodini, Associate Director, Program in Museums and Society, Johns
Hopkins University, "Whose Art Museum? Historical and Contemporary Perspectives"

Afternoon session (2-5 p.m.)

Eik Kahng, Curator of 18th and 19th-Century Art, Walters Art Museum,
"Painting as a Visual Art: Should It Ever Be Heard, as Well as Seen?"

Martina Bagnoli, Associate Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, Walters Art
Museum, "The Implications of Global Demand for Western Culture"

Ivan Karp, Director of Center for Public Scholarship, Emory University,
Summary and response: "The Object and Its Public: An Anthropologist's

Reception (5:30-7 p.m.)

To register (conference is free) go to:


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