Call for proposals: Reflection of the Madrid Conference of 1934

From 7-10 February 2018, the University of Turin, Italy, will hold a conference reflecting on the 1934 conference in Madrid, which was a turning point for the reflection on museum arrangement and display practices.

The International Conference "Muséographie, architecture et aménagement de musées d’art," organised in Madrid in October 1934, was a turning point in the reflection on museum arrangement and display practices in Europe and the United States, a debate that was already central to the work of the newly founded Office International des Musées which promoted it. As the pages of Mouseion journal, the institution bulletin whose publication had started in 1927, the conference proceedings constituted a repertoire of the topics under examination in the most recent museum studies and a handbook for state-of-the-art arrangements also overseas. For the first time, museums and displays pertaining to different fields of knowledge could be compared, from art history, to archaeology, to anthropology. The subjects systematically addressed ranged from artificial lighting, to the survey of the visitors’ reactions and duration of their visit. Moreover, the creation of scientific and restoration laboratories, along with libraries, within museum spaces was highly recommended. A few years after the first world conference of library science (Rome 1929), the close relations between libraries and museum institutions was indeed one of the themes the new museology was focusing on.

Although recently already considered in some international studies, the matters dealt with in the Conference, as well as their reception, can be further delved into with a premium on disciplinary circularity. The anastatic edition we are working on and which will be available by the date of the symposium, improved with annotated indices that help its consultation, is intended as a tool for documentation and study of the debate on museums.

At almost a century from the Conference, this symposium proposes a series of considerations on a broad spectrum that relate different disciplinary paths to the critical debate on the identity and purposes of museums, also offering new perspectives on the contemporary world.

The proposals, which could revolve around both single permanent and temporary exhibitions, and diachronic analyses, may concern the following areas:

– Time and museums: contextual museums and new museums between tradition and modern innovation.
– Museums and nations: policies, delegations and stakeholders. The critical debate.
– Museums and the disciplines of knowledge: new narratives, types and forms.
– Museums and spaces: display practices and museum technology.
– The Museum and its visitors: exhibitions, dissemination and reception.
– Behind the scenes: documentation and communication. Archives, libraries, photographic archives, restoration.

Interested applicants are kindly invited to submit an abstract of maximum 2000 characters including spaces, either in Italian or in English, by 20 October 2017 to the following address: <link>

After the Scientific Committee’s selection, the accepted applicants will be notified via email by 30 November 2017.

Conference organised by:
Elena Dellapiana (Politecnico di Torino)
Maria Beatrice Failla (Università degli Studi di Torino)
Franca Varallo (Università degli Studi di Torino)

Scientific committee:
Giampiero Bosoni, Maria Ida Catalano, Silvia Cecchini, Paola D’Alconzo, Michela di Macco, Patrizia Dragoni, Anna Maria Ducci, Antonella Gioli, Valeria Meirano, Susanne Meyer, José Luis De la Nuez Santana, Almudena Perez de Tudela, Cecilia Pennacini, Chiara Piva, Dominique Poulot, Federica Rovati, Maurizio Vivarelli, Francesca Zanella, Stefania Zuliani.

Research group:
Silvia Cammarata, Jennifer Cooke, Costanza Giai, Alessandra Giovannini Luca, Beatrice Zanelli


Text taken from the conference organisers.