The Power of Speaking and Listening in the Contemporary Art Museum

By Jane Deeth.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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

This paper questions the notion that contemporary art is beyond the grasp of the general public and considers what the public art museum can do to facilitate greater participation in the experience of contemporary art. The issue as to whether the experience of contemporary art can be made more accessible without resort to ‘dumbing down’ of either the artwork or the process of interpretation is explored. It is argued that the adherence to formalist aesthetics limits the capacity for viewers to engage with contemporary art and that more discursive approaches to looking at art are required. To this end, rather than give viewers’ explanations of artwork provided by expert interpreters, the paper presents viewer engagement strategies that have been developed from a detailed analysis of the behaviours of expert interpreters in their discursive engagement with art. The analysis includes case studies in which these innovative strategies have been enacted in a public art museum setting.

Keywords: Contemporary Art, Interpreting Art, Public Programs

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.125-134. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.134MB).

Dr. Jane Deeth

Arts Consultant, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Jane Deeth is the Director of New Audiences for Art, an art and interpretation consultancy engaged in the fields of art interpretation and audience development particularly in the art museum sector. After twenty years working in the visual arts as an artist, educator, arts administrator, writer and researcher, Jane has spent the last five years bringing this diverse experience together through doctoral research entitled Extracting Meaning from Strangeness: Strategies to enhance viewer engagement with contemporary art in the public art museum. The consultancy works with curators, art educators and public program officers to develop their capacity to bring art, including its more challenging contemporary aspects, to new audiences through the direct experience of art but without dumbing art down.


There are currently no reviews of this product.

Write a Review