Blockbuster exhibitions are ubiquitous fixtures in the cultural calendars of major museums and galleries worldwide. The Rise of the Must-See Exhibition charts their ascent across a diverse array of museums and galleries. The book positions these exhibits in the Australian cultural context, demonstrating how policy developments and historical precedents have created a space for their current domination.
Drawing on historical evidence, policy documents and contemporary debates, the book offers a complex analysis of the aims and motivations of blockbuster exhibitions. Its chronological approach reveals a genealogy of exhibits from the mid-nineteenth century onward to identify precursors to current practice. This provides a foundation upon which to examine the unprecedented growth of blockbusters in the latter half of the twentieth century. The examples discussed offer a unique opportunity to study how institutional growth, political support, individual champions and audience interest have influenced the development of large-scale temporary exhibitions.
The Rise of the Must-See Exhibition considers blockbusters as an international phenomenon and, as such, is highly relevant to practitioners working across the cultural sector around the world. The book will also appeal to academics and students engaged in the study of museums and galleries, arts management and curating, as well as those interested in the history of exhibitions and cultural policy.