Flattening hierarchies of display: the liberating and leveling powers of objects and materials

Ann-Sophie Lehmann, Judith Spijksma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Recent collection display practices signal what has been described as a “comeback” for the integration of broad-ranging object categories in which the boundaries between these previously separated objects resolve.

Mixing objects from different object categories can take many forms, and occurs not only at the level of the objects themselves, but also at institutional levels. For categories such as painting, drawing, and applied arts, or the subcategories within, such as Renaissance drawings, porcelain, or twentieth-century art, are akin to the divisions in curatorial departments, galleries, or exhibition spaces and the people that work within them.

Also, museums that were initially not “disciplined” have been re-staged to reflect the originally mixed display, such as the Bode Museum, Berlin. Moreover, even in homogenous collections, a mixing of value and status becomes possible when chronology, subject matter, style, or school are not the guiding principle. Such display strategies of mixing therefore typically create new connections and enable collections of varying values, periods, and object categories to merge and their individual artifacts to meet in new and meaningful ways
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalStedelijk studies
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • exhibitions
  • material literacy
  • artistic research
  • craftmanship


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