Skip to content

What Can the Museum World Learn From Hilma af Klint?

Category: Curatorial Practice

In Slate, Shirine Saad reflects on the massive and unexpected success of The Guggenheim Museum’s retrospective of the groundbreaking but little-known artist Hilma af Klint, and considers what it might mean for the wider museum world going forward. Why have audiences so taken to work by an artist they likely did not know beforehand? In Saad’s view, it tapped into weariness with a historical canon that privileges male and Western figures, which suggests that more museums might find success in highlighting myth-busting and undervalued figures from history.

“The Hilma af Klint show marks an important moment for a cultural industry struggling with hypercommercial forces, ethical crises, and an urgent pressure to diversify at every level. Audiences are clearly hungry for provocative, unusual, eye-opening aesthetic experiences that draw them away from their screens and into communal aesthetic experiences. How will museums respond to an environment that rewards the right kind of curatorial risk? Which institutions will take the lead in this new era?”

—Shirine Saad


Earlier this month, as the Guggenheim Museum's exhibition of the formerly little-known Swedish painter Hilma af Klint drew to an end, art world power broker Thelma Golden posted an unusually emotional Instagram caption. "For these past months the Guggenheim has felt like church," she wrote. "All about spirit and soul.

Continue Reading at Slate Magazine

AAM Member-Only Content

AAM Members get exclusive access to premium digital content including:

  • Featured articles from Museum magazine
  • Access to more than 1,500 resource listings from the Resource Center
  • Tools, reports, and templates for equipping your work in museums
Log In

We're Sorry

Your current membership level does not allow you to access this content.

Upgrade Your Membership


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Field Notes!

Packed with stories and insights for museum people, Field Notes is delivered to your inbox every Monday. Once you've completed the form below, confirm your subscription in the email sent to you.

If you are a current AAM member, please sign-up using the email address associated with your account.

Are you a museum professional?

Are you a current AAM member?

Success! Now check your email to confirm your subscription, and please add to your safe sender list.