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To Inspire and Instruct

A History of Medieval Art in Midwestern Museums

Editor(s): Christina Nielsen
Contributors: Peter Barnet, Robert Nelson, Elizabeth Teviotdale, Christina Nielsen, Linda Seidel, Mary Shepard, Thomas Dale,

Book Description

This collection of essays, which derive from a symposium held at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005, tells the story of how medieval art was collected by both individuals and institutions in the American Midwest. This book will appeal to both medievalists and scholars of nineteenth- and twentieth century American history. In addition, it will also appeal to scholars who are interested in museum studies and the history of collecting.

The essays in the first section, “Collecting and Displaying Medieval Art,” consider the formation of medieval art collections at influential cultural institutions in three of the most important centers of industry and culture in the Midwest: Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. The second section, “Medieval Art as Inspiration and Education,” examines the motives of both private donors and museum professionals in forming collections and establishing period rooms and cloistered spaces at museums in Toledo, Kansas City, and St. Louis, among others. At the opposite end of the spectrum was a new trend in curatorial practice, beginning in the 1930s, that favored the dismantling of period rooms and espoused displaying historical works of art in more distinctly modern settings, a theme that pervades section three, “Medieval Art and Modernism.”

An essay on medieval art in Midwestern university art museums and another one that considers the impact of works from medieval collections in special exhibitions serve as a remarkable coda to the rest of the volume. Two appendices follow this, one that provides an overview of medieval art collections in Midwestern university museums and another which provides a biographical sketch of prominent dealers of medieval art from 1900-1950.


ISBN-13: 978-1-8471-8331-6
ISBN-10: 1-84718-331-X
Date of Publication: 01/01/2008
Pages / Size: 260 / A5
Price: £34.99


Dr. Christina Nielsen is Assistant Curator for Medieval Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2004, she edited and served as principal author for Devotion and Splendor: Medieval Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago and Seattle: Art Institute and Washington University Press). Most recently, she served as an author for The Silk Road and Beyond: Travel, Trade and Transformation (Chicago and New Haven: Art Institute and Yale University Press, 2006); and Emaux méridionaux: catalogue international de l’oeuvre Limoges, vol. II: ca. 1200 (Paris: CNRS, forthcoming).