Charles Saumarez Smith and ‘The Art Museum in Modern Times’

How have art museums changed in the past century? Where are they headed in the future? Charles Saumarez Smith is uniquely qualified to answer these questions, having been at the helm of three major British institutions over the course of his career. From the emergence of the modern museum in the 1930s, ‘The Art Museum in Modern Times’ brings us right up to date with dramatic new museum projects in Abu Dhabi, the Swiss Alps, Tasmania, and the opening of a branch of the Centre Pompidou in Shanghai in 2019. In this book, Saumarez Smith casts an acute eye on the ways in which the experience of art is shaped by the nature of the buildings that house it and the organizing principles by which it is displayed. He traces a radical shift from a belief that museums can and should instruct and educate, to the idea that museums should be more about contemplation, spectacle and individual experience.

At this online event join Charles Samarez Smith for a short presentation on his new book and its themes followed by a Q&A with Ernst Vegelin. There will also be time for questions from the audience.

Charles Saumarez Smith was Director of the UK’s National Portrait Gallery 1994–2002, Director of the National Gallery 2002–2007 and Secretary and Chief Executive of the Royal Academy 2007–2018. He is the author of East London; The Company of Artists: The Origins of the Royal Academy of Arts in London; and The National Gallery: A Short History, among other titles. He has written widely on architecture and the history of museums.

Dr Ernst Vegelin Van Claerbergen is A&F Petitgas Head of the Courtauld Gallery. Ernst was educated in England, USA and the Netherlands. He received a BA from Trinity College, CT, and subsequently an MA and PhD from The Courtauld Institute of Art where he specialised in late-16th century religious painting.

Charles Saumarez Smith and ‘The Art Museum in Modern Times’

26 Apr - 21 Sep 2023

26 Apr - 21 Sep 2023

7pm - 8pm BST

Free, booking essential


Booking closes 30 minutes before the event start time.  
If you do not receive the log in details on the day of the event, please email 




Open Courtauld
Book cover of The Art Museum in Modern Times

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