Investigating the development and reception of an art exhibition on the theme of early modern representations of love

Krause, Amanda E., and Davidson, Jane W. (2021) Investigating the development and reception of an art exhibition on the theme of early modern representations of love. Curator: the museum journal, 64 (4). pp. 693-714.

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Can the modern-day art gallery visitor access the historical emotional meaning of what is viewed? The present investigation explored Love: Art of Emotions, an exhibition curated and shown at the National Gallery of Victoria April–June 2017, which displayed a variety of artworks from the early modern period. The current article aimed to investigate both curator intentions and visitor reception of the exhibition. The project leader and the exhibition curator were interviewed about the aims of the exhibition and the steps implemented to realize its intentions. Materials such as the catalogue and exhibition labels were also subjected to a textual analysis to deepen understanding of the curatorial offerings. Additionally, 80 gallery visitors were asked about their subjective experiences of the exhibition. Thematic analysis of the curatorial team interviews and supporting materials from the exhibition identified how the exhibition was created, including coverage of the presenting the historical meaning of love, the selection of specific artworks to be exhibited, design aesthetics, layout and the additional materials presented to support the viewing experience. Thematic analyses of the impact of the exhibition on visitors highlighted overlap with the curatorial team’s intentions, demonstrating that some curatorial choices were apparent to gallery visitors and were also well received. A major exception was appreciation for a historical understanding of love. This was found to be less striking or memorable than the visitors’ own visceral and personal emotional response, such as an emotional reaction to the ambience, rather than to the historical meanings the work might have generated. These findings challenge curators to devise strategies that can help elicit historical understandings in exhibited art works as well as visceral emotional responses. This will project an understanding of art galleries as multi-sensorial and also multi-modal sites in which to experience the emotional impact of artworks through both a visceral and historical frame.

Item ID: 68196
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2151-6952
Keywords: gallery, early modern art, visitor experience, exhibition, history of emotions
Copyright Information: © 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (#CE110001011)
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2021 23:04
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520505 Social psychology @ 60%
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4302 Heritage, archive and museum studies > 430202 Critical heritage, museum and archive studies @ 40%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology @ 75%
22 INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES > 2203 Information services > 220304 Museum and gallery collections @ 25%
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