Strategies of Cultural Inclusion: An investigation of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the “Art of Australia 1788-1941” Exhibition

By Louise Ryan.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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

The presentation is based on an historical investigation exploring the impact of the Carnegie Corporation’s philanthropic cultural and educational activities in North America and Australia during the 1940s. The Carnegie Corporation's role in forming public values and perceptions using cultural and aesthetic material in order to transmit American ideological ideals with the goal of influencing Australian, Canadian and USA cultural norms is explored. The paper examines the “Art of Australia 1788-1941” exhibition, which toured the USA and Canada during 1941-42. Scrutiny of the exhibition uncovers the role it played in alliance building and the promotion of a range of cultural and political agendas revealing a paradigmatic case of the instrumental, cultural application of exhibitions in the interest of both public and private organizations. The analysis discloses the existence of diverse agendas and power/knowledge relationships between governments, corporations and the exhibition. This account highlights the museum as a significant arena for establishing and legitimating social norms and practices whilst steering cultural values. Such actions sponsored by government and entrepreneurial philanthropy build civic values and promote the public belief in shared national identity.

Keywords: Travelling Art Exhibition, Philanthropy, Carnegie Corporation, Cultural Values, Indigenous Art, National Identity, USA, Canada, Australian Relations

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.65-74. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.695MB).

Louise Ryan

Lecturer in Art Education, School of Art History and Art Education, College Of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Louise Ryan is a lecturer in Art education at the University of New South Wales in teacher education. She has recently completed her Masters of Art Education (Honours) in the area of museum studies, specifically educational philanthropy, Australian art and cultural development. Louise has developed a socio-cultural model which allows the investigation of power/knowledge relationships implicit in the displaying of cultural artifacts. She has presented at conferences and published papers on this topic both nationally and internationally. Titles include Forging Diplomacy: The Carnegie Corporation and the “Art of Australia” Exhibition (2002, 2004), Forging Diplomacy: The reforming power of culture (2006), Patterns of Exclusion: Displaying the Indigenous Art of Australia, (2007). Louise is currently investigating modern sponsorship of the arts, in particular the “Arts of Islam: Treasures from the Nasser D Khalili Exhibiton” at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2007.


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