“Framing Context into Concept: The Unseen Challenges of Contemporary Art Curation”


Contemporary art – or art produced after the latter half of the 20th century – is one of the most popular types of art today. In 2020, contemporary art sales comprised more than 15% of the global art market. Despite this growing popularity, contemporary art remains difficult to assign to traditional art historical labels, such as classicism or romanticism. A diverse genre, contemporary art defies narrow curatorial categories. If this type of art cannot be clearly defined, how can it be curated for museum audiences? 

QAIC’s recent webinar, “Framing Context into Concept: The Unseen Challenges of Contemporary Art Curation,” explored the processes and unseen challenges surrounding contemporary art curation. Executive Director Fatima Al-Dosari sat down with curators and directors from institutions in both the US and Qatar, including Dr. Orianna Cacchione (Smart Museum of Art, Chicago), Michelle Yun Mapplethorpe (Asia Society Museum, New York), Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al-Thani (Institute of Arab and Islamic Art, New York), and Khalifa Al Obaidli (Fire Station, Doha), to provide audiences an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the development of contemporary art exhibitions.  

When curating contemporary art, museum professionals should “think outside of the canon,” according to Dr. Cacchione. Speakers also touched on Eurocentrism in art history, and how, in contemporary art, “there was much…cross-cultural exchange and influence [in its development],” as Yun Mapplethorpe explained. Contemporary art spans borders, requiring curators to also “find ways to look beyond geography,” added Dr. Cacchione. While contemporary art curation presents challenges, it also generates exciting and engaging exhibitions, and exposes visitors to new cultures and ideas. 

This webinar was part of QAIC’s Museum Series, which brings together curators and other museum experts from the US and Qatar to discuss the history, evolution, and impact of their institutions. You can view the full conversation from this Museum Series panel through the video below. You can also view all as past episodes of QAIC’s Museum Series through our YouTube channel.