Scholars and poor communicators? Old Masters exhibitions as a scientific practice and communication activity for art museum curators

Pascal Ughetto 1
1 Technique Innovation et Organisation (TIO)
LATTS - Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires et Sociétés
Abstract : Museum curators are rarely the subject of analysis as scientists. By contrast, there is a whole literature on their propensity to give priority to the scientific knowledge of collections over the effort to communicate with different audiences and make museums accessible. This article examines the Late Raphael exhibition at the Louvre (Paris) and draws on the exhibition texts (catalogues, artwork labels, wall texts) to explore the practical activity and preoccupations of the museum curators concerned: the exhibition is simultaneously material for the scientific demonstration of a thesis – part of a debate on the value of the artist's late works – and for communication aimed at both fellow specialists and the wider public. Communication is not distinct from scientific research and handled with less respect. The two are directly interwoven and communication represents a practical activity with its own difficulties. For at least a century, museums have been the focus of conflicts over the definition of their role and the legitimate activity of their staff. Curators in particular have come under fire for their conception of the museum and their professional practices. They have been
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Pascal Ughetto. Scholars and poor communicators? Old Masters exhibitions as a scientific practice and communication activity for art museum curators. Current Sociology, SAGE Publications, 2017, 65 (3), pp.376-394. ⟨10.1177/0011392115617226⟩. ⟨halshs-01673854⟩

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