Terra Foundation-supported Events

Dialogue: “Undoing Borders between Art, Craft, and Design in the Museum Today”

Recently, in parallel with an increasing interest in making as a form of knowledge, design and craft have emerged as objects of academic and curatorial research. By defining craft as “a way of doing things” that affects art and design objects in numerous ways, scholars have introduced new values into the conceptual framework of art history, which challenge some of its fundamental assumptions, such as the autonomy of the work of art, the notion of artistic achievement through purely visual effects, the opposition between amateurism and professional work, or the self-critical values of artistic discourses.

A growing number of exhibitions and collection displays in museums are gradually reflecting these changes. The American Craft Museum in New York City, founded in 1956, changed its name to the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in 2002, and expanded its collections to architecture, fashion, interior design, and performing arts, alongside art, craft, and design. Major recent exhibitions, such as Partners in Design: Alfred Barr and Philip Johnson (on view at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld from March 25, 2017 to July 23, 2017) or L’Esprit du Bauhaus at the Musée des Arts décoratifs (Paris), specifically examine the relationship between crafted objects and the art works produced by the avant-garde.

On the occasion of L’Esprit du Bauhaus, the Terra Foundation Paris Center will host a conversation between Olivier Gabet, director of the Musée des Arts décoratifs, and Glenn Adamson, author of Thinking through Craft (2007) and The Invention of Craft (2013), to reflect on the porous borders between art, craft, and design and the museum’s role in making apparent these interdisciplinary junctions.


  • Glenn Adamson, Senior Scholar, Yale Center for British Art
  • Olivier Gabet, Director, Musée des Arts décoratifs, and Co-curator, L’Esprit du Bauhaus, Musée des Arts décoratifs (October 19, 2016–February 26, 2017)