exploring the relationship of the object and the museum

LSA 2009/10 Theme Year

Home // Calendar of Events // Film Series

Winter 2010 Film Series

The Museum on Screen

Throughout the history of film, museums have been the setting and subject of fascinating documentary and feature films. The films in this series take viewers into some of the world's great museums,

All films will be shown at 7:00 PM in the Helmut Stern Auditorium of UM Museum of Art.

Free and open to the public.

Thursday, January 28

Louvre City

(Nicolas Philibert, 1990, 85 min.)

Louvre City

This documentary film provides a rare backstage look inside one of the world's most famous museums, the Louvre. The museum reveals itself to a film crew showing the work of a great museum which takes place behind the scenes and is rarely, if ever, seen by the public.

Thursday, February 4

Secret Museums

(Peter Woditsch, 2009, 77 min.)

Secret Museums

Throughout the ages, erotic art has been created by some of the world's best-known artists, but it is rarely on public display. Whether it is held in private collections, or kept under lock and key in museums and libraries worldwide, erotic art and literature remains censored. But when graphic, even extreme sexual imagery is freely available on the Internet, why is erotic art considered so dangerous that it must be prohibited?

Filmed in England, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the U.S., SECRET MUSEUMS explores the locked rooms, warehouses, museum cellars, bank safes and private homes where erotica is hidden, from the British Museum and the National Library of France to Munich's National Graphics Collection and the Vatican, home of the world's largest collection of pornography. Gaining access to carefully guarded collections with names such as "Secretum," "Gabinetto Segreto" and "L'Enfer," the film reveals books and images never before filmed or photographed.

SECRET MUSEUMS features interviews with wealthy collectors, museum curators and guides, librarians, authors, gallery directors, art restorers and experts in erotic art, who discuss the reasons for the cultural suppression and control of erotic art; how institutional gatekeepers, as the protectors of public morality, decide what is acceptable; the difficulty of some in accepting sexuality as an appropriate subject for art; the compulsion to assemble private collections; and how many erotic masterpieces remain hidden today.

Thursday, February 11

The Hermitage Dwellers

(Aliona van der Horst, 2003, 73 min.)

The Hermitage Dwellers

THE HERMITAGE DWELLERS is as much about the people who work in Russia's renowned museum as it is about the glorious art works housed in this St. Petersburg institution. We meet with several "Hermitage-niks"–including Olga Bogdanova, the head of museum maintenance, icon curator Alexandra Kostsova, museum attendant Valentina Barbashova, and art handler Vadim Kuptsov, among others–each of whom explains their own very personal reasons for considering the palace of Catherine the Great their "home."

For Russians the Hermitage is regarded as a place of pilgrimage. For these workers, however, the Hermitage has also been a safe haven from the tumultuous events of Russian history and the hardships of contemporary Russian life. Indeed, each of them explains how their personal traumas and difficulties have been transformed by having developed an intimate relationship with a favorite piece of art. For them, surrounded everyday by remarkable beauty, the Hermitage has become a place of emotional healing.

"A Must-See! Offers a fond (and often moving) glimpse behind the scenes at Russia's fabled Hermitage Museum." — Entertainment Weekly

"As the documentary progresses, we begin to get the sensation that this is truly a drama about people and the passage of time, and not so much about art. Yet it is about the museum, as much as this reflects the emotional and spiritual condition of the people to whom we are introduced. Highly original in scope, The Hermitage Dwellers takes us on a journey of a country that has been victimized by dictatorship and buoyed by the spirit of its people." — Bridges: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Theology, Philosophy, History, and Science

Thursday, February 18

Russian Ark

(Aleksandr Sokurov, 2002, 99 min.)

Russian Ark
Russian Ark

"Russian master Alexander Sokurov has tapped into the very flow of history itself for this flabbergasting film. Thanks to the miracles of digital video, Sokurov (and cinematographer Tilman Buttner) uses a single, unbroken, 90-minute shot to wind his way through the Hermitage in St. Petersburg — the repository of Russian art and the former home to royalty. Gliding through time, we glimpse Catherine II, modern-day museum-goers, and the doomed family of Nicholas II. History collapses on itself, as the opulence of the past and the horrors of the 20th century collide, and each door that opens onto yet another breathtaking gallery is another century to be heard from. The movie climaxes with a grand ball and thousands of extras, prompting thoughts of just how crazy Sokurov had to be to try a technical challenge like this–and how far a distance we've traveled, both physically and spiritually, since the movie began."

"One of the most astonishing films ever made." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Sponsored by the Department of Screen Arts and Culture and LSA Theme Year: "Meaningful Objects: Museums in the Academy"

view the movie trailer >