Today, we are perhaps less concerned with the idea of a direct quasi-religious communion with the artist. However, the idea of 'keeping their spirit alive' remains central to the artist's studio museum.
Curating the studio
But the transition from artist's studio to artist's studio museum is not without pitfalls. For example, many artists choose to live and work in far from ideal 'museum conditions'. How do you balance the need to conserve works on paper with the desire to display them in the haphazard piles in which the artist may have left them?
How, too, do you resolve the question of interpretation? Do you insert large wall panels and textual interpretation, as you would in a white-walled gallery? Or do you choose to create a less 'intrusive' interpretative environment, which might allude indirectly to the idea of the 'ghostly artist presence' - for example by using audio guides or costumed docents?
A curator or Trust will also have to choose which period of the studio-home they want to present to the public. Will it be the house as it appeared just before the artist left or died, or the house as it was in its heyday?
Often these decisions are, unavoidably, dictated by the amount of documentary or archive information on the house that is available.
A curatorial Q&A series
At Watts Gallery – Artists' Village, we have recently re-opened Limnerslease, the former studio of George Frederic Watts, in Compton, Surrey. We found ourselves faced with many of these questions, and, in our discussions with other museums, have been intrigued to see how they have solved the same problems.
So we put this question to some of the other curators in our network. Over the next few weeks, we'll be publishing their responses. The answers are as varied as the museums themselves.
We're beginning on Thursday 15 September with Yuliya Kudryavtseva, Head of the Korin Art Research Department at the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.
She manages the House Museum of Pavel Korin (1892-1967), a city-centre museum dedicated to the Russian painter and art restorer who bequeathed his studio and his contents to the state when he died in 1967.
We hope you'll come back to join the conversation then.