ANU School of Art & Design Sir William Dobell Annual Lecture

Upping the Anti-museum: Covid-19 and its Aftermath

Professor Adrian Franklin

We rarely write critiques of the art world thinking that their time will come within weeks of publication, but this happened to me in 2020. In Anti-museum, I rounded on the contemporary art museum as a failed centre of the art world and proposed new variants of the anti-museum as alternatives. Charged with extending its audience beyond the educated, art consuming classes, art museums continue to service a social elite delivered by the unlimited expansion of tourism. In contrast, Anti-museum showed how some art museums situated themselves as activists, promoting art production, expression and all-of-community engagement. No sooner was the book published than COVID-19 prompted a global collapse of tourism. Many art museums closed, some may never reopen. But a large number found an opportunity to rethink (and recover) core values and aims that had been crushed by the tsunami of tourism-led commercialisation. This lecture will review the ways in which mainstream art museums sought out new publics and forms of engagement during COVID, after the manner of my anti-museum examples, and assess the likelihood of this transforming the art world beyond 2020.

Adrian Franklin is Professor of Creative Industries and Cultural Policy, University of South Australia. He is the author of Anti-museum (Routledge), The Making of MONA (Penguin) and numerous articles on art museums, arts festivals and tourism.


Presented by

Centre for Art History & Art Theory

School of Art & Design

ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences


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