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BOOK OF THE MONTH

In this week’s blog Assistant Curator, Victoria Howarth, peers inside our Book of the Month, Paula Marincola’s What Makes a Great Exhibition?
 
Questions of Practice: What Makes a Great Exhibition?
RRP: £10.95 (10% off for Jerwood Gallery Members)

 
Paula Marincola of the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative approached a number of leading curators with a single question: ‘what makes a great exhibition?’  These five words have prompted fourteen fascinating essays.  Written by independent curators, artists, biennale organisers, curators working for large scale institutions on blockbuster ‘mega shows’, and small scale community projects, this book covers a huge amount of ground. 

Exploring the ethics, pressures, logistics and constraints of curatorial practice, What Makes a Great Exhibition? has something important to say about the challenges and opportunities facing curators today.
 
The essays, and approaches taken by their authors, are diverse and revealing.  Investigations of how architecture, imagination and institutional politics impact on displays share space with discussions of the role of the artist in the curatorial process, the challenges of group shows, and how labels and interpretive information shape the experience of audiences.  There is even an essay focused on an exhibition of clown art. Contributors include Iwona Blazwick, Director of Whitechapel Gallery, artist Glenn Ligon, Carlos Basualdo, previous curator of Venice Biennale and Documenta 11, and Robert Storr, Dean of the School of Fine Art at Yale University.
 
The book, published in 2006, was inspired by the growing public interest in how exhibitions are planned and formed, and is now a staple of most curatorial and museum studies reading lists.  I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the process of curating an exhibition, particularly students and early career museum professionals.
 
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08 May, 2015
Written by Victoria Howarth