Daniel Birnbaum, Director of Modern Museum Sweden, posed some interesting questions and explored fascinating anecdotes in the first session of ERC Helsinki.
As ‘guardians of the museum’ he was keen to remind us that we are not involved in neutral activity and that our work has great cultural and economic consequences.
Using interesting examples ranging from Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain and Andy Warhol’s Brillo boxes he challenged us to consider what is art and can its status change? He argued that in many ways art and philosophy are the same thing.
Daniel also considered the huge valuations attached to many contemporary artworks today and the contradictions we face when an object can arrive after purchase in a taxi but is treated very differently when lent subsequently.
He also encouraged us to join the “Free the Goat” debate. Robert Rauschenberg ́s famous goat installation is thought by some to be imprisoned in a glass box. 
This first presentation was a thought-provoking start to the conference and the debates are sure to rage on.