How Should Museums be Defining 'Success’ in a Time of COVID?

20 October 2020

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Join CIMAM's #6 webinar on 29 October 2020.

4:30 pm CEST

  • Ferran Barenblit, Director, MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona
  • Ivet Curlin/WHW Collective, Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna
  • Annie Fletcher, Director of IMMA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin
  • Malgorzata Ludwisiak, CIMAM Board Member, Ph.D. Independent Art Critic and Curator, Warsaw

Moderated by Sarah Glennie, CIMAM Board Member and Director, National College of Art and Design, Dublin.

Rapid Response Webinars are free of cost and accessible ONLY for CIMAM Members. Sessions are recorded and posted at the Members Only section of the CIMAM website for those who missed the time.

This is an interactive session. Attendees are encouraged to participate and leave their video cameras on. Please make sure you mute your microphone when you are not speaking.

Register here


As we are now more than half a year into living with the global pandemic CIMAM would like to invite its members into an open peer to peer reflection on what we have collectively learnt in the Museum sector, what the future looks like, and the nature of contemporary art museums that will emerge out of this.

Recent surveys by museum associations in Europe and United States show that the future viability of many museums is under threat as a result of the pandemic and economic crisis. Museums have reported fundamental changes in their audiences, programmes and income sources which will require radical new solutions. Should museums “adopt” to a new reality by simply downsizing to a smaller scale and less ambitious programming or should they develop new models and metrics for ‘success’ which are appropriate to our current context? Which of the institutional practices that have been already tested during last months might stay with us beyond the current pandemic and what potentials can be found for new forms of engagement with audience and artists?


  • Ferran Barenblit

Since 2015, and until Sept 2021, Ferran Barenblit is the Director of MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, where he leads the strategic plan that has taken the organization to a new era, expanded its exhibition spaces and created ambitious intellectual, academic, artistic and audience development initiatives.

Ferran Barenblit view of an institution combines the responsibility of looking back at the recent past and a role in building the future. The museum should operate through art and its diversity, rejecting a single hegemonic narrative. From this perspective, its mission focuses on researching and disseminating today’s art among broader audiences so as to trigger social transformations by empowering visitors and users to engage in intense democratic, cultural and educational behaviors.

Ferran Barenblit’s fields of research include: rethinking contemporary institutions under the notion of the “constituent museum”; contemporary art history, with a focus on the 1990s; the role of irony in culture; museum programming strategies; the relationship between art and popular culture – including music and the punk movement. He has a deep interest in generating an intense dialogue among the European countries, and with his native Latin America. He has generated many projects that have travelled from Barcelona / Madrid to Mexico City (MUAC, the university art museum) and Buenos Aires (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Fundación Proa).

  • Ivet Curlin/WHW Collective,Vienna

Since 2003, WHW collective has been running the program of Gallery Nova, a city-owned gallery in Zagreb. In 2018, WHW launched a new international study program for emerging artists called, WHW Akademija, based in Zagreb. In March 2019, WHW members Ivet Ćurlin, Nataša Ilić, and Sabina Sabolović were appointed artistic directors of Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna. WHW continues working in Zagreb, with collective activities coordinated by Ana Dević.

Since the first exhibition in 2000, WHW have curated numerous international projects, among them Collective Creativity, Kunsthalle Fridericianum, Kassel, 2005; the 11th Istanbul Biennial What Keeps Mankind Alive?, Istanbul, 2009; and One Needs to Live Self-Confidently… Watching, Croatian pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennial, 2011.

Recent projects include My Sweet Little Lamb (everything we see can also be otherwise), (co-curated with Kathrin Rhomberg), various locations in Zagreb, 2016/2017; Everything we see could also be otherwise (My sweet little lamb), (co-curated with Kathrin Rhomberg and Emily Pethick), The Showroom, London, 2017; Želimir Žilnik: Shadow citizens, Edith-Russ-Haus für Medienkunst, Oldenburg; the 2nd Industrial Art Biennial, On the shoulders of the fallen giants, Rijeka, Pula, Labin, Raša, Vodnjan, 2018.

  • Annie Fletcher

Annie Fletcher Director of IMMA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and is currently working towards the major commeration programme of its 30th anniversary due in 2021. Prior to joining IMMA Annie held various positions including Chief Curator at the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, tutor at de Appel, Amsterdam, the Dutch Art Institute (DAI) and the Design Academy Eindhoven, and has regularly worked with art institutions around the world including the SALT Istanbul, New Museum, New York, and L’Internationale network. In 2012 she was Curator of Ireland’s Contemporary Art biennale EVA International and is regularly called upon to sit on major International juries, including the Turner Prize in 2014 and the selection committee for the Irish Pavilion at Venice in 2016.

  • Malgorzata Ludwisiak

Malgorzata Ludwisiak, Ph.D., Independent art critic and curator, member of CIMAM board – Chair of the Scientific Committee. She was a director of Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw (2014-2019), a vice-director of the Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz (2008-2014), director of the International Łódź Biennale (2006) and initiator and director of Łódź Design Festival (2007). She curated a.o. El Hadji Sy. At First I Thought I Was Dancing (2016, CCA in Warsaw) and Correspondences. Modern Art and Universalism (with J. Lubiak; 2012-13, Muzeum Sztuki). As a lecturer and writer she focuses on the social role of contemporary art and its institutions.

  • Sarah Glennie

Professor Sarah Glennie is Director of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland.

She is a distinguished leader in the arts in Ireland and internationally, working professionally in the cultural realm for twenty years, with extensive experience of directing and working in a number of public cultural institutions in both Ireland and Britain.

Prior to NCAD she was Director of The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2012-2015) and previously as Director of the Irish Film Institute (IFI) (2008-2012), where she oversaw a major redevelopment programme. At both organisations she developed new programmatic and organisational strategies that led to significant audience growth and greater financial sustainability. Among other roles, she was also Artistic Director of the Model Arts and Niland Gallery in Sligo (2005-2008), Commissioner of Ireland's participation in the 51st Venice Biennale in 2005 and Curator with the Henry Moore Foundation Contemporary Project where she curated many other notable visual art projects, both in Ireland and internationally, including Romantic Detachment at PSI MOMA in 2004 and Stopover at the Venice Biennale in 2003. Her curatorial experience includes exhibitions and projects by Olafur Eliasson, Dorothy Cross, Paul McCarthy, Duncan Campbell, Jaki Irvine, Tacita Dean and Isabel Nolan amongst many others. In 2018 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Bristol in recognition of her contribution to the arts.

The National College of Art and Design offers the largest range of Art and Design degrees in Ireland at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and is the only Irish university institution specialising in Art and Design.