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The Art Museum in Modern Times (Signed Copy)

Charles Saumarez Smith


Drawing on his unique experience at the helm of three major British art institutions, Charles Saumarez Smith traces how art museums across the world have changed over the past eighty years in this signed edition of the book.

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How have art museums changed in the past century? Where are they headed in the future? Charles Saumarez Smith is uniquely qualified to answer these questions, having been at the helm of three major British institutions over the course of his career.

His story starts with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, one of the first to focus squarely on the art of the present. When it opened in 1939, MoMA’s boldly modernist building represented a stark riposte to the neoclassicism of most earlier museums. From there, Saumarez Smith embarks on an odyssey to explore forty-one other museums across the globe, including Tate Modern in London, the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Benesse House Museum on the Japanese island of Naoshima, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris – as well as the Pompidou’s new Shanghai branch, which opened in 2019.

In each case, Saumarez Smith casts an acute eye on the ways in which the experience of art is shaped by the nature of the buildings that house it and the organizing principles by which it is displayed. He traces a radical shift from a belief that museums can and should instruct and educate, to the idea that museums should be more about contemplation, spectacle and individual experience.

A compelling examination of the art museum from a renowned director, this sweeping book explores how the architecture, vision, funding, and public role of art museums across the world have transformed – and considers their future in a new era of pandemic and uncertainty.

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Publication date: 11 March 2021

ISBN: 9780500024898

Contents List

Introduction • 1. The Pre-War Museum • 2. The Modern Museum • 3. The Post-Modern Museum • 4. Museums for the New Millennium • 5. The Museum Re-invented • Conclusion

About the Author

Charles Saumarez Smith was Director of the UK’s National Portrait Gallery 1994–2002, Director of the National Gallery 2002–2007 and Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy 2007–2018. He is the author of East London; The Company of Artists: The Origins of the Royal Academy of Arts in London; and The National Gallery: A Short History, among other titles.