02 April 2012
In his 2001 publication Art and Artifact: The Museum as Medium, independent curator James Putnam coins the term ‘museum intervention’ to describe a type of artwork created by some artists as a means to critique organizing principles of the museum. Putnam’s book analyzes examples of museum interventions, including his own 1994 exhibition, Time Machine: Ancient Egypt and Contemporary Art, but fails to offer a definition for the term. This thesis analyzes the trajectory of exhibition practices leading to the publication of the new term through an examination of historical changes in museum display. The paper then analyzes examples of museum intervention included in Putnam’s book in order to develop a definition for the term. The paper examines Time Machine in relation to the new definition and, contrary to Putnam’s assertions, concludes that the exhibition is not a museum intervention.
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