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Where, how, by whom and for what were the first museums of contemporary art created? These are the key questions addressed by J. Pedro Lorente in this new book. In it he explores the concept and history of museums of contemporary art, and the shifting ways in which they have been imagined and presented. Following an introduction that sets out the historiography and considering questions of terminology, the first part of the book then examines the paradigm of the Musée des Artistes Vivants in Paris and its equivalents in the rest of Europe during the nineteenth century. The second part takes the story forward from 1930 to the present, presenting New York's Museum of Modern Art as a new universal role model that found emulators or 'contramodels' in the rest of the Western world during the twentieth century. An epilogue, reviews recent museum developments in the last decades. Through its adoption of a long-term, worldwide perspective, the book not only provides a narrative of the development of museums of contemporary art, but also sets this into its international perspective. By assessing the extent to which the great museum-capitals - Paris, London and New York in particular - created their own models of museum provision, as well as acknowledging the influence of such models elsewhere, the book uncovers fascinating perspectives on the practice of museum provision, and reveals how present cultural planning initiatives have often been shaped by historical uses.
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J. Pedro Lorente, Universidad de Zaragoza, SpainReview:
'This is the book that many people were waiting for. Entering the 21st century, it is vital to read this original and well documented book which historically analyzes the evolution of modern museums while insisting on a sharp analysis of our contemporary museums' excesses. This book should help future students as well as museum directors to understand the high stakes of the new cultural game in the renewed debate around the working of our democracies.' Serge Guilbaut, University of British Columbia, Canada. 'Thirty-two half-page black pencil drawings help show the significance of architecture in this history. The addition of a 16-page multilingual bibliography makes this volume a fine current reference... Recommended.' Choice 'A visually appealing and elegant volume, with the addition of thirty-two half-page black pencil drawings which help show the significance of architecture in this history of museums of contemporary art, The Museums of Contemporary Art is clearly the product of a great deal of careful research. ... To conclude, Lorente's work successfully illuminates an area in the history of museums of contemporary art. With the addition of a 16-page multilingual bibliography as one of its many strengths, this volume is an appropriate current reference towards understanding the high stakes of the cultural game in a renewed debate of the role and purposes of museums of art.' Museum & Society
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