As a platform for public discourse, museum exhibitions have a crucial role to play in interpreting and shaping the art world in which they operate. Exhibits reveal cultural debates and controversies, canonize a specific period in art history, and communicate socio-political messages. The concept of the museum exhibition as a cultural event was introduced by blockbuster exhibitions such as the one showing Tutankhamun’s treasures in several cities around the world, but the idea of exhibitions as a critical tool can be traced back to the 19th century.
The histolircal exhibits of Marinotti and Sandberg aimed at a different audience with slightly different purposes: De Vitaliteit in de Kunst sought to wake up society by introducing visitors to works imbued with “vitality,” an instinctual energy that invades the creative process of artists, while Van Natuur tot Kunst looked at the developing relationships between art and nature among contemporary artists, and attempted to define where the vitality of making lies. Both exhibitions positioned themselves as a new vocation for the CIAC and a step away from the conventional art historical approach of other contemporary art museums at the time.
Museums must be careful to monitor the temperature and humidity of exhibition spaces to protect artworks from serious fluctuations. A general recommendation is that the temperature should never exceed 72°F and the relative humidity shouldn’t be higher than 50%, but this varies according to the type of materials displayed (for example, vellum and parchment are highly sensitive to changes in moisture levels). 24-hour air conditioning and dehumidification are also critical for preserving the stability of an exhibition space.