On curating and curation

Yesterday, a new exhibition was opened at the Danish Royal Library in Copenhagen. The exhibition is called ‘Treasures in The Royal Library’ and it is the Danish National Library’s first permanent exhibition in recent times. It highlights Danish cultural heritage throughout 1400 years and provides an opportunity to see the Royal Library as the country’s treasury from the 600s until our present time. The exhibition shows a selection of the most exquisite, largest and most valuable manuscripts, books, letters and other works of both Danish and foreign origin from the library’s collections:

The Royal Library in Copenhagen has brought its most precious treasures out of the vaults and placed them in the hands of Russian artist Andrey Bartenev. The result is the new permanent exhibition Treasures in The Royal Library, where Gutenberg’s bible, the notes of philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, the diaries of fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen and a wide range of other invaluable cultural treasures are immersed in pop art jungle.

The exhibition is composed especially with a particular room at the Royal Library in mind and it is staged by Russian avant-garde artist Andrey Bartenev. Bartenev’s intention is to forge links between the very oldest writings, books and manuscripts and modern information culture.

At the opening of the exhibition, Bartenev was present and did a ‘performance speech’. Both his performance and the staging of the room that holds the exhibition are symptomatic of the way in which curators today are considered as important and creative as the artists/writers and their works of art themselves. Standing in that room in the Royal Library yesterday, I was thinking how beautiful the old books and manuscripts are in and of themselves – and I could not help wondering whether this way of ‘wrapping’ them in modern avantgarde culture is really necessary? The intention is to get a larger audience interested in books and manuscripts. But avantgarde culture is not the most accessible kind of culture to begin with…


About the reluctant digital humanist

A humanities scholar who is interested in American history, human rights, copyright and digital humanities.
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