Toronto Metropolitan University
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The Public Lives of Private Family Albums: a Case Study in Collections and Exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Max Dean: Album

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posted on 2023-01-09, 20:04 authored by Heather Rigg

This thesis uses Toronto artist Max Dean's performance Max Dean: Album, produced in conjunction with the Art Gallery of Ontario, as a case study to investigate the complex issues involved in the display and recirculation of private family albums in the public space of the art gallery.

A survey of the critical literature that addresses the placement of vernacularobjects such as family albums and snapshots in the art gallery functions as a preamble to a series of interviews done with scholars, academics and curators in the fields of photography and art history.  Drawing on the results of these interviews, this paper examines the challenges that arise when family albums are publicly displayed and exhibited. Terry Barrett's methodology of investigating the context of photographs is considered and applied to family albums and to Dean's Album project, analyzing how his public performance provides a creative solution to the issues raised. 





  • Master of Arts


  • Photographic Preservation and Collections Management

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Thesis