Denise Petzold

Published On


Page Range

pp. 229–252


  • English

Print Length

24 pages

12. The ‘Museum Problem’ Revisited

Learning from Contemporary Art Conservation

  • Denise Petzold (author)
This chapter seeks to rearticulate the ‘museum problem’ that classical music is ought to have, meaning the idea that this music’s pastness and traditions are in significant tension with processes of innovation. In order to understand how musical works can be brought into the future in meaningful ways, it proposes to look at a related, yet different institution: the contemporary art museum. There, classical music institutions and practitioners may learn about (1) new understandings of how the ontology or existence of artworks, and (2) how such understandings may inform institutional change. In particular, the chapter introduces the contributions that a specific theoretical approach from contemporary art conservation studies – the notion of the archive as presented by conservator and media art researcher Hanna B. Hölling – can make in the innovation of classical music. The author continues to outline the merits of this approach with the help of two examples, the experimental MCICM concert The People’s Salon and her own research on violoncellos. The chapter concludes that such interdisciplinary approaches can reveal and open up alternative understandings of what an artwork can be and what it does, what role artistic heritage plays in institutions and society more broadly, and inform practical changes that attend carefully to the involvement of human as well as non-human actors in the traditions of classical music.


Denise Petzold

Postdoctoral Researcher at the Maastricht Centre for the Innovation of Classical Music (MCICM) at Maastricht University

Denise Petzold is an interdisciplinary social scientist and postdoctorate researcher at the Maastricht Centre for the Innovation of Classical Music (MCICM), Maastricht University. In her dissertation Archives of Change: An Art Conservation Studies Approach to Innovating Classical Music (2023), she investigates what role artefacts and technologies play in the conservation of classical music’s heritage and how this heritage is negotiated in practice. In doing so, she employs approaches from the field of contemporary art conservation to address the tension between ‘conserving’ and ‘innovating’ artistic heritage in highly professional and tradition-loaded communities of actors. Her research interests revolve around the role of science and technology in artistic practice, ephemeral materials and artforms, as well as issues of craftsmanship and making.