source: NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART. 2023. Saint Jerome Reading, 1505 [online]. Available at:

Architecting Nature: The Pastoral Genre in Art Museum Design

How often do we get conscious of the fact that the function of art in general, and in relation to architectural space in particular, was dramatically changing throughout the course of history? And how is the consciousness of this historical transformative process relevant for the cultural and architectural discourse on museums and their architecture today? These are the main questions addressed in this paper, approached through a focus on the notion of leisure as a philosophy of good, or rather, healthy way of living and how it was embedded within the Renaissance spatial concept of diaeta, as a decisive element of the pastoral genre. Yet, as opposed to the pastoral genre in art and literature, where it was fully assessed and researched as a set of formal and operational means for expressing that particular philosophy, pastoral genre in architecture has not been sufficiently theorised. This paper provides a theoretical and historical inquiry into the pastoral genre as a promising topic of reconciling the perennial art-nature antithesis as practice of good, healthy life. The paper investigates the capacities of architecture to use such potent concepts from the broader cultural field and translate, or better transcode them into its own specific disciplinary language. In the end, it examines whether, and how, the concept of the pastoral survived at the onset of Modernity and whether it has both relevance and a future in the architectural and museum’s world today.


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