Conference article

Representation and Regionalism: Moderna Museet and the Construction of a Narrative of Swedish Women Artists

Martin Sundberg
University of Basel, Switzerland

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Published in: Great Narratives of the Past Traditions and Revisions in National Museums

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 78:23, p. 361-370

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Published: 2012-10-30


ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


The relation between Stockholm’s Moderna Museet and regional developments; with a focus on women artists; was the interest of a recent research project. The aim of the research group Representation and Regionalism was to shed light on the situation in Sweden and to compare Moderna Museet with regional museums with substantial collections of 20th century art: Göteborgs konstmuseum; Malmö konstmuseum; and Norrköpings konstmuseum. Representative of government authority; Moderna Museet is responsible for 20th century and contemporary art made nationally and internationally. But a closer look at how the collection had largely been acquired – namely at Stockholm art galleries – does not represent art production nationwide but rather one that is centered in the capital. This might provoke further probing into the question of the museum’s display of national art; as well as what art history it re-presents – adhering to the center and neglecting the periphery. Furthermore; we focused on the absence of women artists in the collections. Our intention has been to contribute to diverse aspects of gender studies and to facilitate another take at representation and regionalism. Nevertheless; we have been able to pinpoint many problems that concern all artists (i.e. the fact that most artists are represented through no more than a single work) – especially working in a country whose art scene is more or less dominated by one city. Questions regarding national identity are closely linked to how an image is constructed in the capital. The project Representation and Regionalism is the starting point for this article; it aims to highlight future possibilities that will help to understand the development of great historical narratives.


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