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Role of Public Galleries and Museums comes under Scrutiny

The future role and function of public galleries and museums will come under the spotlight in Museum21, a major symposium at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 November. Topics will range from classical museum practice through the relationship between art, politics and the community to the increasingly important question of the impact of globalisation on art practice in non-Western societies. The role of art institutions will also be explored through performance, as will the use of corporate skills to promote a greater engagement with art. Museum21 will bring together leading artists, curators and historians, several of whom have never spoken in Ireland before.

Other questions being addresses will include possible changes to the remit of public institutions in the light of the ever-growing number of biennials and art fairs; the best means of serving a highly mobile, multicultural public, and the impact of the growing emphasis on raising funds and increasing visitor numbers on intellectual and artistic values.

Papers will be presented by the following speakers:

Okwui Enwezor, who was born in Nigeria, is a curator, critic and poet, and is currently Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President, San Francisco Art Institute, and Adjunct Curator, International Center of Photography, New York. He has written extensively on contemporary African art and artists, as well as on international art.

Bart De Baere, who was born in 1960, is Director of the MuHKA, the Antwerp Contemporary Art Museum, which co-publishes the Afterall Journal. He was curator at the Ghent Museum of Contemporary Art (now SMAK), and was also a curator for Documenta IX.

Andrea Fraser, who was born in the USA and is based in New York, has been identified with performance, video and context art. Since the 1990s she has been associated with the institutional critique art movement, interrogating the policies, power structures and commercial practices of the modern-day museum.

Enrique Juncosa, who was born in Spain, has been Director of the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, since 2003. Prior to that, he was Deputy Director of the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art in Madrid and, before that, of the Institute of Modern Art in Valencia. He had curated exhibitions by numerous international artists from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds.

Susan Pearce, who was born in South Africa, is Professor of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK. She has engaged particularly with issues of cultural representation and the relationship between the artist, the museum and society, and the role of art institutions in these and other debates.

Carey Young, who was born in Zambia, is a London-based artist, whose work employs a variety of media, including video, photography and performance. Young often uses found tools, language and training processes from the worlds of the Multinational Corporation and global law firm and alters them within an artistic context.

The symposium will be chaired by Siún Hanrahan, writer and artist, and, since September 2008, Head of Research and Postgraduate Development at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. The discussion moderator is Kevin Atherton, artist, who is currently writing a PhD in the Visual Culture Faculty at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin.

This is the fourth in a series of international symposia at IMMA exploring institutional issues relating to galleries and museums. To Have and To Hold, 2003, addressed collecting policies, Curating Now, 2004, investigated curatorial practice and Access All Areas, 2006, addressed public access to contemporary art and artists.

The fee for the symposium is €90 for organisations, €40 for individuals, or €20 concession (students, OAPs, unwaged). In addition to the presentations, this includes an opening reception (12 November), lunch and refreshments (13 November) and the symposium pack.

Online booking is available on A booking form can also be downloaded from the website. Booking closes on Friday 7 November. Booking is essential as places are limited.

In association with this year’s symposium a time-based web resource will be available leading up to the live event featuring information about IMMA’s biennial symposia, archival material, profiles of speakers, bibliographies, associated events and blog. This will be available from September at

Further information
Jen Phelan, Administrator: Education and Community Programmes
Irish Museum of Modern Art
Royal Hospital, Military Road
Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Ireland
Tel +353-1-6129919/3 Fax +353-1-612 9999
Email [email protected]

Museum21 is programmed by Sophie Byrne, Assistant Curator: Talks and Lectures, Education and Community Department, IMMA.

For further information please contact Monica Cullinane or Patrice Molloy at Tel : +353 1 612 9900, Fax : +353 1 612 9999, Email : [email protected]

6 November 2008

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June. A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. There are three exhibitions to visit  Hilary Heron: A Retrospective; Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s shop, café and gardens are all open.