Globalizing the Ideology of Art: Art Museums in the Arabian Peninsula

Amy Zhang

Advisor: Paul Smith, PhD, Cultural Studies Program

Committee Members: Michele Greet, Johanna Bockman

Buchanan Hall, #D023
November 14, 2023, 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM


This dissertation studies the development of art museums in the Arabian Peninsula during ‎the 21st century as examples of how legitimacy is constructed and maintained by art ‎institutions in the non-West. It locates the establishment of art museums in Qatar and the ‎U.A.E. within the context of an intensely conflicted art world where ideas comprising the ‎ideology of art that were formerly axiomatic to the field have become challenged but not ‎fully unsettled. It shows how the counterintuitive forms that 21st-century Arabian ‎Peninsula art museums take and their ambivalent Western media reception demonstrate ‎that the contemporary art world remains structured to exclude, despite that desires for the ‎globalization of art and presumptions about the universal value of art remain motivating ‎principles within the art world. It argues that art museums in Qatar and the U.A.E. fully ‎embody the institutional contradictions of the contemporary fine art world. As a mirror to ‎established norms and principles, new Arabian Peninsula art museums demonstrate how ‎art museums inhabit a conceptually unsustainable position.‎