between the discursive and the immersive
3 dec - 4 dec 2015

An international Symposium on Research in 21st Century Art Museums organized by: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam and Aarhus University.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark

Please not that this symposium does not take place at the Stedelijk but at the Lousisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, Denmark. Registration & Tickets.

Research occupies a greater and more autonomous role in the modern and contemporary art museum than ever. No longer restricted to supporting exhibitions and the collection, this type of knowledge production in the museum has become an independent, often interdisciplinary form of programming with its own curators and budget. In this regard, Paul O’Neill talks of a “curatorialization of education” and Miwon Kwon of a “discursive turn” in the museum sector. 

At the same time, a major part of the knowledge production in the twenty-first century art museum results in the creation of spectacular exhibitions and collection displays, designed to offer audiences a unique and immersive experience. Whereas didactic exhibitions and the focus of collection preservation may have previously prevailed, museums are thus increasingly embracing a synaesthetic dispositif, an experiential model of curating, to engage their publics. 

Moreover, what to think of the growing participation of the public in the selection, presentation and interpretation of art in museums? And the increasing use of new media technologies such as online video, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share curatorial knowledge? In other words: knowledge production in museums of modern and contemporary art oscillates between the discursive and the immersive.

In this landscape of changing paradigms of museum programming and institutional outlook, the alliances between museums and universities are solidified. In the past years, governmental policies are encouraging, if not demanding academia to get out of its ivory tower and ‘valorize’ itself by collaborating with partners beyond the conventional outreach of the university. 

Thus, the modern and contemporary art museum has become an increasingly interesting partner for academic teaching and university research programs. This is in many ways a welcome and timely development, however, museums should consider that this does not merely lead to an ’academic turn’, in terms of measuring the research output of a museum solely on the number of peer-reviewed articles published by its staff. On the contrary: it should result in more knowledge about, and development of the specific potentialities of museums to produce knowledge at the intersection of academic discourse, artistic inquiry and artistic research, the display of objects, and the broad publics addressed by museums; the institutional specificities the modern and contemporary art museum. 


  • Francesco Manacorda, Director, TATE Liverpool
  • Anselm Franke, Head of Visual Arts and Film, Haus de Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
  • Chus Martínez, Head of the Institute, FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel
  • Mark Wigley, Dean at Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, New York
  • Maria Finders, Strategy and Developement, executive member Supervisory Board, LUMA Arles
  • Johanna Burton, Director and Curator of Education and Public Programme, New Museum (New York)
  • Victoria Walsh, Head of Programme, Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art, London
  • Thomas J. Lax, Associate Curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art, MoMA, New York
  • Abdellah Karroum, Director at Mathaf, Doha
  • Molly Nesbit, Professor of Art, Vassar College



Registration will be possible through the link below until November 15 2015. However, due to a limited number of seats in the Auditorium, we encourage participants to purchase the conference ticket early in advance.


  • Normal registration fee is: 750 DKK
  • Student registration fee is: 550 DKK (with a valid Student ID)

The registration fee includes lunch, coffee breaks, conference bags and evening drinks on both days (3-4 December 2015). If you wish to attend the conference dinner on Thursday December 3rd, you will have to buy a separate ticket:

  • Dinner ticket: 450 DKK (incl. wine) 


The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art has set the conference registration - and additional practical information - on the platform called ”Billetto”. You need to sign in on the Billetto webpage to be able to purchase your conference ticket. Upon registration and payment, Billetto will automatically send the conference ticket and the payment confirmation to the email address you have provided in the registration form.

Remember to bring either a printed or a digital version of your ticket on the actual days of the conference.



The organizers of the conference aim to stimulate a critical debate on the potentialities of the art museum as a research-based institution – between the discursive and the immersive. The conference will focus on the significance of hybrid forms of research and curating in modern and contemporary art museums, dealing with questions such as: How can exhibitions function as mediums for research? How can artistic research contribute to art museums? What is the research value of (immersive) exhibitions? What is the role of the sensory experience in gathering and disseminating knowledge in the museum? What is the function and position of ‘public programs’ as curatorial models for research and knowledge production? What does the public contribute to the museum’s knowledge production? 

The conference welcomes theoretically founded contributions as well as practice-based contributions that contribute with model cases or concrete experiments in the field. 

A selection of the contributions to the conference will be shared in forthcoming issue of Stedelijk Studies, the new online peer-reviewed journal of the Stedelijk Museum.


  • Marie Laurberg, Curator at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
  • Margriet Schavemaker, Head of Research at the Stedelijk Museum 
  • Irene Campolmi, PhD Fellow at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
  • Hendrik Folkerts, Curator, documenta 14
  • Jacob Wamberg, Professor in Art History, Aarhus University