I’ve been thinking since I started this blog about trends in museum exhibitions. As I thought about what I wanted to write about when it comes to museums, certain topics keep coming up. I wrote about this in my post on animal-focused exhibitions, and since then I have been spotting more trends, and other articles picking up on this.
Trendspotting is a curious pastime, once you become aware of a trend you start to see it everywhere. There’s also the question of what drives trends. Sometimes a subject becomes cool, and lots of museums are keen to highlight their collections which relate to a certain subject, or even country, which is in at a given time. Sometimes there is one very high profile exhibition, such as the V&A’s Savage Beauty, and other organisations are keen to cash in on the buzz around it – for example with the Tate’s tie in photography exhibition Working Process.
I’ve already listed some current and upcoming exhibitions about animals:
- Strange Creatures: The art of unknown animals at the Grant Museum until 27 June 2015
- Exotic Creatures at the Royal Pavilion Prince Regent Gallery from 14 November 2015 – 28 February 2016
- A Walk on the Wild Side at Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery from 11 June 2015 – 20 September 2015
I’ve also since discovered:
- From Shells to Shields: The natural world and its influence on human defence at the Great North Museum Hancock until 30 June 2015
- Dawn Chorus at Fabrica until 25 May 2015
Yes, taxidermy is about animals, but since the above exhibitions offer some unusual takes on animals in museums distinct from the usual natural history approach, and since taxidermy is currently so popular in its own right, I’ve given it its own list.
- Taxidermy Is Dead (Long Live Taxidermy) at the Horniman until 21 June 2015
- Notice Nature Feel Joy new gallery at Derby Museum and Art Gallery featuring work by Jazmine Miles-Long, an ethical taxidermist who has recently appeared at several museum events around the UK
- Apart from taxidermy in exhibitions, there seems to be a trend for encouraging visitors to partake in a little DIY taxidermy at special courses and events at Barts Pathology Museum and the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities.
This trend came to my attention via an article in the Guardian highlighting no less than three shoe-focused exhibitions in London this summer. Fashion exhibitions are always crowd-pleasers, so these are sure to be popular:
- Life on Foot at the Design Museum from 13 May – 1 November 2015
- Rayne Shoes for Stars at the Fashion and Textile Museum from 22 May – 30 August 2015
- Shoes: Pleasure and Pain at the V&A from 13 June 2015 – 31 January 2016
- Making Colour at the National Gallery, 2014
- Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint at the Wallace Collection until 7 June 2015
- Regency Colour and Beyond, 1785-1850 at the Royal Pavilion Prince Regent Gallery, 2013
- Mondrian and Colour at Turner Contemporary, 2014
- Gods in Colour at the Ashmolean until 14 June 2015
A little bit meta this one (or perhaps it’s actually just back to basics – I’m not sure which!). Several museums have mounted exhibitions recently examining the meaning of collections and the act of collecting.
- Magnificent Obsessions: The Artist as Collector at the Barbican until 25 May 2015
- Cotton to Gold at Two Temple Place from 31 January 2015 to 19 April 2015
- All of This Belongs to You at the V&A until 19 July 2015
I’d be interested to hear of other examples of exhibitions which fit these trends, or any other recurring themes which you have noticed.