Histories outside History

Museums and the Multitude of Art Histories

International conference

October 20–21, 2006
Vilnius Picture Gallery, Didžioji str. 4

The National Gallery of Art is a branch of the Lithuanian Art Museum. In the run-up for the opening of the Gallery, the Lithuanian Art Museum implements a program of discursive events intended to discuss urgent issues of museum ideology, management, exhibition curating, education, public relations’ strategies and others.

While working on the draft of the future display of the Gallery, the mapping of the Lithuanian Art Museum’s collection of the 20th c. art – containing examples of national modern art, the Soviet period Lithuanian artists’ works as well as the seminal collection of contemporary Lithuanian art – became a pressing need. Local sociopolitical, cultural and aesthetic denominators of the 20th–21st c. are ambivalent and constitute a serious hindrance for art historians who hesitate to complete the history of Lithuanian art.

How can the art and culture phenomena that matured under highly diverse political and ideological circumstances be linked; how does one compare their significance; is it possible to embrace the whole period with an integral narrative affording ground for recognizing not only the concise story of art but also the complex history of the country and its links with Europe on the whole; how to avoid prevailing stereotypes? How to interlink the topic of local modern and contemporary art history with the grand narrative of world history of art escaping the image of an overdue and marginal development?

These are questions common to all East European countries troubled by political instability throughout the 20th c. – many of them are lately also opening or restructuring their museums of modern and contemporary art. However, no less is it a subject for art histories of many West European and non-European countries, which are similarly pushed into the margins of the canonic 20th c. art history. The subject of reading and presenting the 20th c. art is related to a number of broader issues of cultural translation urgent to contemporary reflexive museum practices.

Visibility and memory of art from politically oppressive and turbulent periods (colonization, occupation, dictatorship, decline and depression, etc.), articulating peripheral modernities, developing alternative, non-canonical narratives of the history of art of the period in museum practices, the non-canonical collecting and displaying of the 20th c. art, contradictions and concurrencies between the fields of critical research and contemporary museum activities and other similar topics are suggested for the discussion in the conference Histories outside History. Museums and the Multitude of Art Histories.


abstracts and biographies

Lithuanian Art Museum
Lithuanian section of the International Art Critics‘ Association (AICA)

The event is carried out within the framework of the international research project Translate (http://translate.eipcp.net).

With the support of:
Lithuanian Millennium Program
Ministry of Culture of the Lithuanian Republic
Embassy of the Austrian Republic
Royal Embassy of Spain
Royal Embassy of The Netherlands
Royal Embassy of Norway