An anti-museum of anti-museums

An anti-museum of anti-museums still can’t turn an anti-museum into a museum. And it is fortunate, then, that anti-museums are not museums, they are alive and always open, them, like antimuseum.com. Besides, as I’m writing these lines, it’s museums that are looking like anti-museums rather as they are all closed and deserted.

The anti-museum of anti-museums

Anti-museums - anti-museum the British Museum
Let us not argue, museums too can be alive, judging by their attractiveness, when times are normal, however old they may be. Here, the British Museum in London with its contemporary and beautiful glass roof.

We owe the concept of anti-museums to Jean Tinguely. We created the first versions of this site in the 1990s to showcase our watercolours. As time went by, the site evolved towards photography and now, both are grouped together.

Since then, many artists, philosophers or simple Internet users have taken up this concept in different ways. Whereas in the beginning, only one anti-museum, ours, was to be found on first page results of search engines (Google at the time had just been created and barely existed), anti-museums are plentiful today and this is good news in our view.

We have tried to keep a trace of them here with this list, which will be updated as we make more discoveries. This is our anti-museum of anti-museums, which lists the various versions of this concept and the way it has been interpreted.

1. Paris Art and the CENTQUATRE, an anti-museum dedicated to Art creation

On the Paris Art website, we are back in 2009 (already a “time of crisis”, it’s dragging on isn’t it?), with the release of a book, on the creation of the CENTQUATRE, installed in what used to be the municipal undertakers workshops. I believe there’s a bit of irony here.

“Robert Cantarella and Frédéric Fisbach’s ambition […] is to overturn the relationship between the public and the artists by making CENTQUATRE a unique art venue in the world, focused on the living as well as on Art creation.

Cantarella and Fishbach are respectively actor and director. They stopped being responsible for the CENTQUATRE a good many years ago.

2. Anti-creationist and scientific anti-museums

Daniel Phelps, a scientist and paleontologist, presents the Kentucky creationist museum as an “anti-museum” in which the fanciful theses of the museum’s inventors are presented as arguments for re-establishing the “truth” taken from the book of Genesis. It goes without saying that we do not share these theses and that the anti-museum is related to Tinguely and the Cyclops and not to the opponents of science and knowledge. Anti-museums are often perceived, and even defined, as an opposition to a museum, but they can also be seen as a praise of the living, and that is our stance.

« A native of Australia, Ken Ham arrived in Northern Kentucky in 1994. Previously, he had worked for the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) near San Diego, California. During his stint at the Institute for Creation Research, Reverend Ham developed a reputation for being a firebrand for the creationist movement. For example, his most popular book The Lie: Evolution is intended for adult readers, but features cartoons of “evolutionists” dressed as pirates with cannons shooting up a castle labeled “Christianity” (as Dave Barry says, ‘I’m not making this up!’). “

3. An anthropological anti-museum to glorify everyday objects

From Croatia comes another form of anti-museum, a tad more anthropological, that of the artist Vladimir Dodig Trokut, “both a legend and an enigma in Croatia” if I believe ikonartfoundation.org.

“Artist Vladimir Dodig Trokut is both a legend and an enigma in Croatia. Although he has been present on the creative scene since the 1960s and is highly prolific, his work has yet to be seriously critically evaluated. Perhaps this is partially because Trokut creates on the margins [of the Croatian contemporary Art scene]”

Bric a brac Augurein - anti-museums
Bric-a-bracs are staples of my drawing pads, a kind of anti-museums of everyday life, in the manner of a book by surrealist author Georges Perec (such as his famous opus Life, a user’s manual)

“This interest in anthropology, along with the subversive, anti-institutional art practices of the 1960s, was likely the stimulus for Trokut’s Antimuseum, a massive collection of everyday, found objects that he has gathered over the past four decades. The collection is an “antimuseum” not so much because Trokut is anti-institutionalist, but because it exists outside of any established museological practice, as it comprises ordinary objects, artwork by the artist himself, and artwork by other artists, and additionally, it is simultaneously a collection and an art project.”

There are many other interesting places and works on this theme, our work as curators of anti-museums has only just begun.

last update: 28 February 2021

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