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Tension Between Everyday Practice and the New Museology Theory: A Case of the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius

Summary

This article aims to present the main aspects of the New Museology theory and discuss the possibilities of its adaptation in Lithuanian museum practice. To date, the New Museology theory, which was formed in the 1980’s and places the emphasis on the contextual presentation of artworks and the social role museums play in public cultural life, is not widely used in Lithuanian museum practice and a comprehensive survey of art museum permanent collection displays has not been carried out in regards to this particular framework. The first part of this article presents the New Museology theory and its historiography, including main authors, who have contributed to the formation and development of the ‘new’ theory. The second part presents an overview of different methods of display, including aesthetic, contextual/educational and white cube models. The third part shows how a recent establishment of the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Lithuania completely ignored the New Museology theory and was based on the modernist view of art history, made popular in the Soviet period. Thus, it comes as no surprise, that the permanent collection display at the NGA has received a lot of criticism from various cultural and art historians and other academics. It is expected that the presentation of the main aspects of the New Museology theory and an assessment of a permanent collection display at the National Gallery of Art will help inform Lithuanian museum practice and form a basis for further studies in Lithuanian museological research.

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