Form and Finance: Museums at the Public/Private Divide

  • 5:15pm – 6:30pm

  • Hunter Building, Hunter Lecture Theatre (017)
    74 Lauriston Place
    EH3 9DF

The American museum in the 21st century is a system where the category of the public is used to serve the agendas of a patron class. This lecture will take the reopening of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and its adoption of the Fisher collection (assembled by the late owner of The Gap) to show the connection between financial and aesthetic mediations in the nonprofit museum structure by tracing how donations are procured, art collected, funds administered, a building designed and built, and commitments towards the curatorial and educational programs made. In the transition between the financial and administrative aspects of the museum and its aesthetics, the term “public” is used under varying disciplinary and professional logics. The lecture will demonstrate how these differences in definition are manipulated, making the museum part of the machine that moves wealth upwards, places limits on the curatorial program, and ideologically restricts culture.

Dr. Nizan Shaked is professor of contemporary art history, museum and curatorial studies, at California State University Long Beach. Her book The Synthetic Proposition: Conceptualism and the Political Referent in Contemporary Art (Manchester University Press, 2017) is a Wyeth Foundation for American Art College Art Association Publication grantee (2015). She is currently working on: Museums, the Public, and the Value of Art: The Political Economy of Art Collections.


The Global Contemporary Research Group is based in the School of History of Art, Edinburgh College of Art, The University of Edinburgh. It gathers together research across the School of History of Art on contemporary art, culture and the global. A busy programme of public events on these issues is planned for 2017/18. The Research Group is co-convened by Kirsten Lloyd and Harry Weeks, and was initiated by Angela Dimitrakaki.

Are you interested in studying History of Art - MPhil/PhD/MSc by Research at Edinburgh College of Art?