February 09, 2021

This Multifaceted Book Features Conversations with the Art World’s Most Prominent Thinkers and Their Shifting Views on the Encyclopedic Museum

This Multifaceted Book Features Conversations With the Art World’s Most Prominent Thinkers and Their Shifting Views on the Encyclopedic Museum

LOS ANGELES, CA–Donatien Grau defines the encyclopedic museum as a museum "in which the works of a broad expanse of cultures coexist." It is referred to as encyclopedic because it aspires to be: to include hundreds, if not thousands, of cultures in the same museum, in the same collection, suggesting an innate connection between cultures, no matter how disparate they may be in terms of language, politics, or geography.

Over the last two decades, the encyclopedic museum model has been praised, defended, and criticized for its Eurocentric bias. Debates on provenance, cultural origins, and restitutions have exerted pressure on encyclopedic museums, and indeed on all manner of museums. Is there still a place for an institution dedicated to gathering, preserving, and showcasing all the world’s cultures? What can they contribute when the Internet now seems to offer the greater encyclopedia?

In Under Discussion: The Encyclopedic Museum, Donatien Grau argues for a geographical shift out of the Western-centric encyclopedic museum towards an “encyclopedic method for museums.” He discusses this concept, its reality, challenges and potentials, with some of the art world’s most preeminent thinkers, including museum leaders such as Kaywin Feldman, Max Hollein, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Mikhail Piotrovsky and Hamady Bocoum; artists and architects, like Camille Henrot and Jean Nouvel; scholars, such as Kavita Singh, Bénédicte Savoy, Homi K. Bhabha, Bachir Souleymane Diagne, and Anthony Appiah; journalist Fiammetta Rocco; political leaders such as Irina Bokova and Zaki Nusseibeh.

Under Discussion: The Encyclopedic Museum (Getty Publications, $35.00) includes revealing and unexpected conversations on the past, present and future of the encyclopedic museum – with and beyond preexisting institutions. This book is an invaluable addition to these critical conversations, and offers brilliant insight into the ever-evolving world of art and museums.

Donatien Grau is a scholar and museum executive. He currently serves as Head of Contemporary Programs at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.


Includes interviews with:

George Abungu, National Museums of Kenya Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York University Homi K. Bhabha, Harvard University

Hamady Bocoum, Musée des Civilisations Noires, Dakar Irina Bokova, UNESCO

Partha Chatterjee, Columbia University

Thomas Campbell, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco James Cuno, J. Paul Getty Trust

Bachir Souleymane Diagne, Columbia University Kaywin Feldman, National Gallery of Art

Marc Fumaroli, Collège de France Massimiliano Gioni, New Museum

Michael Govan, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Camille Henrot, artist

Henri Loyrette, Musée du Louvre

Philippe de Montebello, New York University Jean Nouvel, architect

Zaki Nusseibeh, United Arab Emirates

Mikhail Piotrovsky, State Hermitage Museum Grayson Perry, artist

Krzysztof Pomian, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales Mari Carmen Ramírez, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Fiammetta Rocco, The Economist

Max Hollein, Metropolitian Museum of Art Sabyasachi Mukherjee, CSMVS Mumbai Jean Nouvel, architect

Bénédicte Savoy, Collège de France

Kavita Singh, Jawarhlal Nehru University, New Delhi Amit Sood, Google Arts & Culture


Publication Information:

Under Discussion: The Encyclopedic Museum

Edited by Donatien Grau

Getty Research Institute

256 pages, 6 x 9 inches, paperback

ISBN 978-1-60606-719-2

E-BOOK: 978-1-60606-720-8 US $35.00 / £27.00


US and Canada Publication Date: April 13, 2021 International Publication Date: June 8, 2021


Media Contact:

Sydney Lopez

Getty Publications


About Getty Publications:

Getty Publications produces award-winning titles that result from or complement the work of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Conservation Institute, and Getty Research Institute. This wide variety of books covers the fields of art, photography, archaeology, architecture, conservation, and the humanities for both the general public and specialists. Publications include illustrated works on artists and art history, exhibition catalogues, works on cultural history, research on the conservation of materials and archaeological sites, scholarly monographs, critical editions of translated works, comprehensive studies of Getty’s collections, and educational books on art to interest children of all ages.


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CA 90049-1682 USA

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