Transparent opacities: the West Building of the North Carolina Museum of Art Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Good, Kristin Hawley
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Art and Art History
  • This paper critically examines the North Carolina Museum of Art's West Building, designed by Thomas Phifer and Partners. Drawing on the methods of critical museum studies, I argue that the architecture and installation of the West Building work together to create a sacred space, which elevates a discourse of pure aesthetics under the false guise of transparency, while structuring a visitor experience that is directly at odds with the museum's stated democratic mission. I frame my argument in response to statements by the museum, architect, and press, which characterize the building in terms of transparency, openness, and democracy. Scholarship on the history and theory of museums, a comparison with the recent expansion of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and evidence from visitor feedback and staff interviews inform my analysis.
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  • ... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Art History in the Department of Art.
  • Sherman, Daniel

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