Preserving the Past/Programming for the Future

28th October 2023

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In light of the Malta International Contemporary Art Space (MICAS) opening in 2024, this keynote lecture and ensuing panel discussion will examine the need for not-for-profit museums and art 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.

Timothy Rub, the George D. Widener Emeritus Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art will deliver the Malta International Art Weekend Keynote Lecture at the invitation of MICAS

Recently retired after 12 years leading one of the world’s most important encyclopaedic art museums, Timothy Rub was celebrated during his long career as one of the most significant and inspirational cultural leaders of his day. The rich experience he 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.

Session 1: Keynote lecture 

Using the building and expansion programmes he oversaw during his directorships as case studies, Timothy Rub will deliver an illustrated lecture which addresses 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.

Session 2: Panel discussion 

Following a short break, a panel discussion moderated by MICAS’ Artistic Director, Edith Devaney and including Timothy Rub, Waqas Wajahat, Conrad Shawcross and Dr Georgina Portelli will follow, picking up and further developing many of the themes introduced in the keynote lecture, and directing the focus of many of these threads to MICAS and its impending opening.

The panel will discuss the broad area of the development of new and existing arts organisations and explore how such developments evolve their relationship with the communities, both artists and public alike, which they serve. How such projects can alter outside perceptions of the community/place where they are located. 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 organizations in a meaningful way. 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. The general ecology of the art world which includes commercial galleries, auction houses and collectors will also be considered, as will their investment in the not-for-profit sector, and how their support can positively shape public institutions.

There will be a Q&A session following the panel discussion.



Time: 10:00 – 13:00 hrs (welcome coffee will be served at 9:30 hrs)

Location: National Museum of Archaeology, Republic Street, Valletta

Venue: Gran Salone

Admission: Free, book here.


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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