A Cultivating Journey examines the collection of significant European historical and modern art donated to the McMaster Museum of Art by Herman Levy in 1984, and includes works by Courbet, Derain, Monet, Pissarro and Van Gogh. Today the production of such a project raises the critical question: how does the museum collect in the twenty-first century? This would have been a much easier consideration when the Levy donation entered the museum’s collection. Up until that time, art history and the museum were Western inventions that served a particular period (circa 1860-1980) without contestation. The situation has since changed, forcing a reconsideration of the making, collecting, and presenting of art in a diverse, global, multi-centred world through a decidedly ideological institution. This thoroughly illustrated publication serves as both exhibition catalogue as well as an analysis of the task at hand. In essays and extended didactic statements on individual works, experts in their fields document the conundrum while speaking to/in the present museological moment. Discussions include the act of collecting; the transfer of personal to public; the enduring yet changing cultural significance of works of art - formally and socio-politically; the changing nature of collections; and the role of the museum in naming, classifying, interpreting, and maintaining works of cultural heritage.
Tabitha Barber is Curator of British Art, 1550-1750, Tate Britain. Tobi Bruce is Director, Collections and Exhibitions, Art Gallery of Hamilton. Lloyd DeWitt is Chief Curator, Chrysler Museum of Art. Alex Kidson is an art historian and curator, Liverpool. Alison McQueen is Professor of Art History and Director, School of the Arts, McMaster University. Kim G. Ness is an art historian and curator and former Director, McMaster Museum of Art. Caterina Y. Pierre is Professor of Art History, City University of New York. Ihor Holubizky is Senior Curator, McMaster Museum of Art.