Johanna Burton

Theme: Curating Public Knowledge

Exhibitions as Atmospheres

Increasingly, museums are regarded as places that deliver history, the present, and even emergent futures in the form of entertainment. Yet, equally strong in many institutions’ missions--and the practices of the curators who work within them--is the mandate to create presentations that rigorously organize and analyze culture, both more traditionally and utilizing new forms. On the spectrum between the discursive and the immersive, then, is a type of exhibition-making that might be described as “atmospheric,” and is indicative of the dueling paradigms (traditional pedagogical vs. visual spectacle) at the heart of our contemporary moment. 

Johanna Burton is Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Engagement at the New Museum, NY. She was Director of the Graduate Program at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (2010–13), and Associate Director and Senior Faculty Member at the Whitney Independent Study Program (2008–10). She has contributed to Art Forum and October and has curated exhibitions such as Sherrie Levine: Mayhem, Whitney Museum (NY, 2011); and Take It Or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology, Hammer Museum (2014).