Franziska Nori, Director, Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina (CCCS) – Palazzo Strozzi, Florence

Observations on recent museum presentations that involve music and sound

Even though traditional fine art museums are still primarily dominated by silence under the assumption that quietness fosters a more intense engagement with mainly visual art, we can observe a growing openness towards presenting exhibitions and installations involving sound and music. Determined by the interdisciplinary character of current art production, contemporary art museums have been the institutional forerunners in expanding the range of exhibits from tableaux and sculptures to multimedia installations, sound art and performative practices, having to confront the specific challenges of how to appropriately present it within an exhibition format.

Paying tribute to the interdisciplinary character of current art as well as to the growing demand for broader public appeal, museums have expanded the array of cultural phenomena with which they engage. Over the last years we have witnessed an increasing readiness by museums to devote exhibitions to expressions of subculture, outsider art, street art and before that to time-based art, digital media and internet art, performance and sound art with the attempt to increasingly “musealize” and stage them within an institutional museum setting.

This presentation will focus on two aspects – it will introduce some exemplary exhibitions of the recent past pointing out the different typologies of shows involving music and sound as well as the diverse approaches on how to display and present audible work, attempting a critical analysis of the respective approaches. Furthermore it will look at some of the different types of current artistic production involving sound as fundamental material for their work.