New Book | Closed on Mondays

Posted in books by Editor on May 3, 2021

From Lund Humphries:

Dinah Casson, with a foreword by Christopher Frayling, Closed on Mondays: Behind the Scenes at the Museum (London: Lund Humphries: 2020), 208 pages, ISBN: 978-1848224346, £30 / $40.

Dinah Casson, co-founder of Casson Mann, museum and exhibition designers for over 30 years, guides the inquisitive museum visitor through a series of questions and problems which confront museum curators, and their designers, behind closed doors.

The transformation of museums from the ‘dreary, dusty places’ they used to be to places that people want to be in, alongside objects they want to be near and ideas they want to understand and then share has been extraordinary. During the last twenty-five years, millions of pounds have been poured into our national museums in the UK: as a result, they are certainly brighter and fuller. It is against this background that Dinah Casson has opened the service entrance of the museum a little.

This book is not an explanation of what an exhibition designer does or how to do it. Instead, by means of a series of essays punctuated with comments from collaborators and visitors, it explores exhibition design and alerts the visitor’s eye to this invisible craft. It explores questions such as: why are most paintings in carved, gilded frames, regardless of artist, period or subject matter? Why do so few contemporary art galleries have windows? If a label text irritates us, what should it say instead? Why do facsimiles make some people so uncomfortable? Why do we keep all this stuff? What is it that visitors want from our museums? In doing so, it offers enjoyable insights, which will add depth to our future visits through the front door (which is usually closed on Mondays) and will make us question what is shown, why it’s shown where (and how) it is, what’s written about it and how the interaction between museums and their designers has encouraged each to change.

Since creating Casson Mann in 1984, Dinah Casson, together with her partner Roger Mann, been involved in some of the most interesting and complex of recent museum installations both in the UK and overseas; from the British Galleries at the V&A in London to the new facsimile at Lascaux in Perigueaux, the work of the award-winning practice has been widely published and it is recognized as one of the leading companies in the field.

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