Nicholas Serota: ‘The Concept of the Museum Is in Constant Evolution’


Sir Nicholas Serota.


This week, the Art Newspaper published a version of a speech given by Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate, at the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul. In the speech, Serota gives his thoughts on the future of the Tate as it prepares to open a new, rehung Tate Modern in June, as well as an extension to the museum’s Tank performance spaces that will open later this year. He also speaks generally to the issues museums face today.

“The concept of the museum is in constant evolution,” Serota says. “The first challenge for the museum of the 21st century is to create spaces that accommodate the way in which artists wish to work, and to develop [programs] for these spaces that reflect the public’s desire for a more active engagement with the art.” Noting that the Tate is amping up its digital audience engagement with a new app, much like the Metropolitan Museum in New York has done, Serota adds:

Museums have become places where we take part in social as well as learning activity. It is easy to be cynical about the impact of the café, restaurant or shop spaces on the culture and character of museums, but such facilities have made museums less daunting, more welcoming and more open to general visitors. However, such [democratization] needs to go deeper than the provision of opportunities to purchase or to consume.

Serota’s thoughts on the museum in the 21st century are part of a larger trend of institutions branching out into more populist programming, which anyone who has been to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the last five years can attest to. “[I]f the museum is to flourish in the 21st century, it cannot afford to be solely a place of retreat from society,” Serota says. Read more here.

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