Lecture Curatorial Studies
In the early days of public museums, opening hours were a highly debated issue. This was not just because questions such as whether or not museums should be open on Sundays pointed to the extent to which the museum realized its ideal of unlimited public accessibility. This debate also occured because the invention of a cultural ritual based on an open temporal frame with no fixed beginning or end marked the museum as a liberal ritual; a ritual that, unlike the fixed time format of theatre, allowed individualized and flexibilised forms of usage. Although the museum can host thousands of people a day, it – contrary to theatre or film – still constitutes a flexible ritual par excellence. In that sense, it is a distinctively modern ritual that corresponds to a modern, individualized sensitivity.
The lecture will reflect on the aesthetic and cultural significance of these phenomena in light of the history and current social function of art museums. By relating them to sociological approaches such as the theory of weak ties, it will throw a particular light on the respective economies of attention that are at stake in exhibitions today
Dorothea von Hantelmann, born 1969 in Hamburg, lives in Berlin. She teaches Art History at the Freie Universität Berlin and works at the Collaborative Research Centre on “Aesthetic Experience and the Dissolution of Artistic Limits.” Among her recent publications are How to Do Things with Art: The Meaning of Art’s Performativity (2010) and Die Ausstellung. Politik eines Rituals (ed. with C. Meister, 2010).