Frances Morris

From Canon to Community: shifting priorities at Tate Modern

Series: New Canonical Histories
Date: Thursday 14 February 2019
Time: 18:30
Venue: AA Lecture Hall
Running time: 0 mins

Tate Modern opened in 2000 with a program of collection displays and exhibitions demonstrating a belief that now, at the start of the 21st-century, it was no longer appropriate to narrate a single, conventional account of the development of art. However the Modern Foreign Collection, as it was then called, had been shaped to reflect the ‘modernist canon’, broadly following a template established by Alfred Barr, founding Director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York from the 1920s on. Over the last ten years Tate Modern has worked, strategically, to ‘de-colonise’, broaden and open up the canon, addressing - in its collecting strategy, exhibitions and learning programmes - the historical biases of gender and race, and to raise important questions about how we understand and value modern and contemporary art.  


Frances Morris became Director, Tate Modern, in April 2016. She played a key role in the development of Tate, joining as a curator in 1987, becoming Head of Displays at Tate Modern (2000–2006) and then Director of Collection, International Art until April 2016.  


She has continually worked to re-imagine Tate’s collection and has been instrumental in developing its international reach and its representation of women artists. Frances was jointly responsible for the initial presentation of the opening collection displays at Tate Modern in 2000, which radically transformed the way museums present the story of modern art. She has curated landmark exhibitions, many of which were large-scale international collaborations, including three major retrospectives of women artists including Louise Bourgeois in 2007, Yayoi Kusama in 2012 and Agnes Martin in 2015. Most recently Frances curated the major exhibition project, Alberto Giacometti, 2017.


Frances holds an MA in History of Art from Cambridge University and the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, and is an Honorary Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. She is a Board member at Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh and a Board member of CIMAM.



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