The theme of making Old Master paintings relevant to museum goers pops up again in the BBC’s report on Frederick Wiseman’s documentary about London’s National Gallery. Here Betsy Wieseman and Charles Saumarez Smith explain the process:
While very little has changed in terms of how artworks are presented within the gallery space, […] traditional institutions are currently at a crossroads in terms of how they present Old Master works of art and make them relevant to contemporary audiences.
“A lot of energy is being put into supporting programmes of events to coincide with exhibitions, as well as high-quality audio guides and promotion via interactive social media campaigns,” she says.
“The way you make Old Master paintings relevant is to find a good hook in terms of explaining the social and historical context, which is fascinating when told in the right way.”
The Royal Academy’s current survey of works by 16th Century Italian portraitist Giovanni Battista Moroni has been an unexpected hit of 2014, despite relatively few people being familiar with his work.
“When we were planning the Rembrandt exhibition, the market researchers told us that people aren’t interested in seeing brown and grey paintings by a dead white man. But that hasn’t proven to be the case,” says Smith.
Making a spectacle of the Old Masters (BBC News)