Museums in Europe in the Interwar Years. The Madrid Conference of 1934: An International Debate

Call for papers

Museums in Europe in the Interwar Years. The Madrid Conference of 1934: An International Debate

International Conference
Università degli Studi di Torino, Politecnico di Torino: February 2018
Submission deadline: 15th October 2017

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 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 15th October 2017 to the following address:

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

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Chiara Lecce

Chiara Lecce received her MA in Interior Design (2008) and her PhD in Interior Architecture & Exhibition Design (2013; with the thesis: “Living Interiors in the Digital Age: the Smart Home”) from the Politecnico di Milano. Since 2008 she has been engaged in teaching activities, in History of Design classes and Interior Design studio, at the Design School of the Politecnico di Milano, collaborating with professors Giampiero Bosoni and Ico Migliore. Since 2013 she has been managing editor of the scientific journal PAD (Pages on Arts and Design) and member of AIS/Design (Italian Association of Design Historians). She is the author of several articles featured in various design journals. She is currently research fellow and lecturer at the Design Department of the Politecnico di Milano, with a focus on exhibition design history and methodologies. In 2016 she was a tutor within the H2020 European project “Design for Enterprises”. Since 2009 she has been collaborating with the Franco Albini Foundation and with other Italian design archives, while continuing to work as a freelance interior designer.

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