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Class Highlight – Controversy and the World of the Museum

museums and controversy

 What class?

Controversy and the World of the Museum

Why is it cool?

Art can shock, disturb and offend. Sometimes it goes so far as to enrage.

Whether the issue involves morality, religion or politics, art has been pushing the boundaries and inciting controversy for nearly 200 years.

Debates once centered solely around works by up-and-coming artists but, over time, museums, galleries, civic spaces, sculpture and architecture became more visually provocative. When gallery owners and directors became more willing to take risks in the 1960s and purposefully began displaying provocative material, the scrutiny expanded to mainstream museums.

Museums soon became places of conflict where forces clashed over stylistically, politically, religiously and sexually sensitive art, revealing society’s struggle to redefine itself in the late 20th and 21st centuries.

This class is cool because it examines issues that are not usually openly talked about. Some of the most controversial domestic and international exhibitions in history, as well as their political, legal, financial and social implications, are discussed. These exhibitions include shows about ethnicity, slavery, Jewish genocide and the dropping of the atomic bomb by Enola Gay.

Throughout the course, students will learn to recognize potentially controversial themes. They will leave with an understanding of how controversies surrounding art have changed museums and minds, and that controversy is not always negative.

Talk to your advisor to see if this class might be right for you, or see what else is offered by the College of Liberal Studies.

Tami Althoff
Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.

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