The People’s Museum for Prince: inverting the curatorial lens from artist to audience
AuthorBalazs, Emma Catherine
AffiliationCentre for Ideas
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2018 Dr. Emma Catherine Balazs
This practice-based research explores an alternative model for an artist’s museum focusing on the impact of the artist on their audience. It takes form as a dissertation, and an exhibition which was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May 2018 as the first iteration of the museum. This research asks how the mourning for an artist and the aftermath of their death can inform an alternative model for an artist’s museum that inverts the curatorial lens from artist to audience in order to honour the deep impact of the artist on the lives of many. Taking Prince, who died in 2016, as a case study, it analyses curatorial, institutional and public practices relating to the musician and his audience, focusing on the public mourning for Prince and the rapid transformation of Paisley Park, Prince’s home and studio complex, into a new museum. The alternative artist’s museum model proposed is a curatorial response to the discrepancy between how Prince was mourned by the public and how he was officially memorialised by an institution. The research is situated within the frame of institutional critique, new institutionalism, and critical exhibition practices, and also within the context of recent contemporary museum exhibitions that take the musician as their subject. The research finds that an artist’s audience provides an alternative source of expertise and rich content for a museum. This new museum model works to transform the essence of the public testimonials and the other creative expressions enacted in the wake of the artist’s death into the generative centre of the museum. By drawing on the diverse, subjective perspectives of the artist’s audience, and through collecting and presenting their stories, creative works and biographical objects, a multidimensional portrait of the artist can emerge. This new model for an artist’s museum that places the audience’s experience at the centre has application beyond Prince to any artist who was deeply beloved by many.
Keywordscuratorial studies; museum studies; Prince; alternative museums; memorials; public mourning
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