Contemporary (public) art in museums

This essay focus on the transfer of meanings between works of art in their original iteration and as museum objects. To reflect on what such displacement implies, I bring together concepts of public art and discuss ideas about the institutional framework of an object of art. Focusing on the work of art paraSITE (1998-ongoing) by Michael Rakowitz, based on a portable shelter for homeless people distributed across several cities in his home country, and subsequently presented in various museological contexts, this article shows how the musealization of contemporary (public) artworks requires the design of contextualization strategies from the museum of art curatorial team. This argument is developed by discussing the strategies used in the exhibition Beyond green: towards a sustainable art (2005) curated by Stephanie Smith, where paraSITE was one of the works displayed.