1st Edition

Iconoclasm and the Museum

By Stacy Boldrick Copyright 2021
    212 Pages 60 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    212 Pages 60 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Iconoclasm and the Museum addresses the museum’s historic tendency to be silent about destruction through an exploration of institutional attitudes to iconoclasm, or image breaking, and the concept’s place in public display.

    Presenting a selection of focused case studies, Boldrick examines long-standing desires to deface, dismantle, obscure or destroy works of art and historic artefacts, as well as motivations to protect and display broken objects. Considering the effects of iconoclastic practices on artworks and cultural artefacts and how those practices are addressed in institutions, the book examines changing attitudes to the intentional destruction of powerful artworks in the past and present. It ends with an analysis of creative destruction in contemporary art making and proposes that we are entering a new phase for museums, in which they acknowledge the critical roles destruction and loss play in the lives of objects and in contemporary political life.

    Iconoclasm and the Museum will be important reading for academics and students in fields such as museum and gallery studies, archaeology, art history, arts management, curatorial studies, cultural studies, history, heritage and religious studies. The book should also be of great interest to museum professionals, curators and collections management specialists, and artists.

    List of Figures


    Introduction Clean Cuts

    Chapter 1 Using and Abusing Images and Objects: After The Destruction of Art

    Chapter 2 Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: Iconoclasm and Institutional Integrity

    Chapter 3 Iconoclasm’s Geographies: Fallen Monuments and Broken Bodies

    Chapter 4 Dead Images: Losing Art

    Chapter 5 Defaced: Breaking and Remaking Art Now

    Conclusion Hidden Histories



    Stacy Boldrick is Lecturer and Programme Director for the MA in Art Museum and Gallery Studies in the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester.

    "Whether we respond in horror or relief at the iconoclastic act, the museum remains the key institutional mediator of our horror or delight; Stacy Boldrick’s excellent book lucidly illuminates the intimate relation of the apparently silent, contained museum and the wild energies that surround and feed it." - James Simpson, Harvard University, USA

    "This is a staggeringly timely book tackling issues that are vitally important for our re-imagining of shared spaces within and well beyond museums." - Richard Clay, University of Newcastle, UK

    "This is a well researched and relevant study of a subject that rarely gets adequate attention. Boldrick is an authoritative guide to the equivocal status of images in society and in the process she reveals much about iconoclasm and museums, as well as human nature. As long as there are image makers, it seems there will always be image breakers. As Boldrick syas, "Iconoclams never ends". - Stephen Feeke, Curator