What is Sustainability in Modern Art Museums? Archétopy Art Museums and Shifting Paradigms of Knowledge

By Irene Campolmi.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper analyzes the challenge of sustainability in modern art museums in the early 21st century society. It positions art museums within the cultural debate about sustainability and identifies missing frameworks in museology that would favor cultural policies based on this value. Though, art museums have looked at sustainability inasmuch industries or commercial businesses and have adopted ‘sustainability charts’ as a tool to green-wash their policies and try to provide a different cultural offer. Their approach has been ‘three-bottom’ and has focused on the economic, environmental and social aspects this value brings in management. However, art museums have left beside the analysis of sustainability in regards to their cultural policies and internal managerial organization. Though European museums have proposed sustainability strategies in the collection management (brand franchising, disposal of the collection, networks and partnerships with museums and business companies), they have not considered yet the chance to revise their bone structure inspired by sustainability principles and approaches. This shift in perspective may change the processes the artworks are documented and contextualized within the exhibition’s narrative. Documentation processes and cultural policies based on sustainability values may assign different tasks and responsibilities to museum practitioners and may foster more democratic working environments. In a sustainable cultural policy, narratives as well as documentation processes may be effectively constructed through diegetic processes by all the museum workers. Such institutions embody a different museums model that I called ‘archétopy’. Modern art museums may adopt it to open the access of narratives and documentation processes to wider segments of stakeholders.

Keywords: Sustainability, Cultural Policy; Documentation; Museum Narratives, Archétopy

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.13-24. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 424.050KB).

Dr. Irene Campolmi

PhD Candidate, Department of Art, Literature and Cultural Studies, Graduate School of Arts, Aarhus University, Poggibonsi, Italy, Italy

I am a PhD student at Aarhus University where I pursue a research project about The Challenges of Art Museums in the 21st Century co-financed and supported by Louisiana Museum in Humlebæk, where I also work as a research collaborator. Currently, I am also associated scholar in the Max-Planck-Research Group “Objects in the Contact Zone: The Cross-Cultural Life of Things”, coordinated by Prof. Dr Eva-Maria Troelenberg. In 2012, I was a Max Planck-Institut-Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz fellow and PhD Candidate in Management and Development of Cultural Heritage at IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca. I have taught at Syracuse University in Florence, New York University in Florence and FUA Florence University of Arts. In the last year, I focused my research on sustainability practices and sustainable development in art museums and I held international seminars and conferences in Canada, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark and France on this topic. Recently, I am interested in museums’ on-line business models, management structure and documentation processes as components of a general analysis about modern art museums long-term strategies and cultural policies.


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