Timothy Rub

Museum veteran Timothy Rub to deliver MICAS International Art Weekend keynote lecture

19th October 2023

American Museum Director Timothy Rub will be delivering keynote lecture Preserving the Past/Programming for the Future at the fifth edition of the  MICAS International Art Weekend

Will the Malta International Contemporary Art Space (MICAS), now on the cusp of its grand opening in 2024, alter the perception of the community and place where they are located? And how will its existence mark the dynamics of the art world, or foster a greater investment in this latest addition to the public institutions of Malta?

These themes will surely form part of a rich discussion that will follow on the keynote lecture of acclaimed American Museum Director Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Emeritus Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to be delivered at the fifth Malta International Art Weekend (MIAW), at the invitation of MICAS.

Recently retired after 13 years leading one of the world’s most important encyclopaedic arts museums, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rub will explore the need for not-for-profit museums and arts institutions to look forward as well as back, in order to both preserve their heritage and to strive to continually reflect the ever-evolving expectations of the constituencies and communities which they serve.

Rub was celebrated during his long career as one of the most significant and inspirational cultural leaders of his day. The rich experience gained not only from his tenure at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, but also through his directorships at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College, has shaped his deep understanding of the nature and purpose of art-museums, and the imperative for their constant reinvention in response to the changing expectations of the societies, both local and global, which they serve.

In September 2009, Rub became the 13th director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  He retired in 2022 after completing a capital campaign that raised over $600 million and an extensive renovation and reorganisation, designed by Frank Gehry, of the interior of the museum’s landmark main building. 

For his keynote lecture, Rub will use the building and expansion programmes he oversaw during his directorships as case studies, for an illustrated lecture that will address the challenges faced by museums not simply to preserve the past, but also – and more importantly – to bring it into creative conversation with the present with the goal of engaging new audiences. A commitment to continuity as well as change is, he will argue, a key in achieving such a goal. 

There will be a brief Q&A session following the lecture, and after a short break, a panel discussion moderated by MICAS’ Artistic Director Edith Devaney, including Timothy Rub, Waqas Wajahat, Dr Georgina Portelli, and celebrated contemporary British artist Conrad Shawcross, whose showcase What is to become is already here is unveiled at this fifth MIAW edition.

“The panel will discuss the broad area of the development of new and existing arts organisations, exploring how such developments evolve their relationship with the communities, both artists and public alike, which they serve,” says Edith Devaney, who outlined a host of themes that will be sparked by Rub’s lecture.

They include the way such projects can alter outside perceptions of the community and place where they are located; or the extent to which education, including adult lifelong learning, is a core focus of such arts-focused new developments, and the mechanisms by which universities and schools can engage and interact with arts organisations in a meaningful way.

The discussion will also touch upon the general ecology of the arts world, which includes commercial galleries, auction houses and collectors, and how their support and investment in the not-for-profit sector, and can positively shape public institutions.

“The position of the artist in this context will also be explored, including how different global institutions provide a wide variety of environments in which to exhibit work, and how the sense of community and history of an institution or place stimulates differing approaches to selecting and exhibiting art,” Devaney adds.

Time: 10:00 – 13:00 hrs (welcome coffee will be served at 09:30 hrs)
Location: National Museum of Archaeology, Republic Street, Valletta
Venue: Gran Salone
Admission: Free, book here.

WELCOME COFFEE and CHILDREN SERVICES will also be provided.

Preserving the Past/Programming for the Future forms part of the MICAS International Art Weekend 2023 and it is supported by the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government, European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Restoration Directorate, Visit Malta and Heritage Malta.

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