Thursday, August 24, 2006

Brain frieze

I need a vacation. I just realized I spelled the above word based on it's architectural definition (and art fair in London) and not the way I meant - when water hardens below 32 degrees. I guess the title becomes even more apropos.

So with a few thoughts in my head, yet unable at this moment to accurately articulate my thinking, let me share with you a post by one of the smartest bloggers out there. This is from Culture Grrl, and here are her thoughts on museums and their audiences.


And Culture Grrl, congrats on the move to AJ.

3 Responses to “Brain frieze”

Anonymous said...
August 31, 2006 at 1:41 PM

I must be exhausted, because I can't discern the logic of this article. I think she's saying that

1. People who come to pop-culture blockbuster shows don't stay to see "encyclopedic collections."

2. Therefore, housing a diversity of collections is not the "best" approach for a museum. Rather, smaller museums with specialized collections are less intimidating to niche audiences. (This point is the most perplexing to me, it seems logically disconnected and unlikely to encourage broadened art experiences, in practicality.)

3. Towards the goal of audience development (for the arts as a whole), people should share and travel their collections. For example, the National Museums of Kenya British Museum is bringing a show of the British Museum's collection.

4. Sharing collections with other institutions will be collegial and ameliorate the recent debates around antiquities.

I don't understand the internal or connected logic between points 1 and 2. As for points 3 and 4, traveling and sharing collections is great for world culture, I'm all for it. But towards promoting world culture as a "collegial" whole (in her language) I'd like to have an even more nuanced and holistic discussion about the priorities that the global community sets in terms of where we steer our capital. Traveling contemporary video is a no-brainer, it's not expensive or particularly complicated. But for major commitments of funds and planning, let's be strategic. Could you imagine seeing the world community intervening in the Baghdad Museum, for example, whose director fled to Syria yesterday, exposing major issues in their politicized preservation and collections strategies? As an art community, would we ever collectively raise and direct funds to assist with protecting Iraq's ancient sites and relics? Consider that government funds to do this will be depleted in September of this year, an astonishing thing.

The notion of building an audience for art is a great aspiration, but any global movement to support world culture needs to be conceived in terms of a much larger collective action.

Scott said...
September 2, 2006 at 4:23 PM

I happen to agree with you here. While global support and access to more international museum collections is desireable, I fear that budgets would be spread too thin and thereby too many comprimises would be put into place in the final exhibitions, making for a lesser viewing expierence. I imagine there is an extensive amount of "red tape" that a museum would have to pass just to get a collection from overseas and I can not imagine the shear cost of shipping and insurance for such an exhibition. For me, I think that perhaps more could be done with those same funds on a national or regional level.

This is not to say that I would not love to see several international collections make their way over here to be seen in our local museum but I do not think this should be dictated or expected.

Anonymous said...
September 4, 2006 at 12:52 PM

I didn't clearly explain my thoughts, so I see where you're responding to a different set of points than I intended to make. I think traveling collections is great. For audience development and collegial relationships (topics extrapolated from CG's post), this is probably more effective than confining collections to "niche" museums with limited audiences, per point #2. But travelling art is just one part of a much bigger gameplan if we're going to be serious about an interconnected strategy for supporting world culture. How should we designate resources in support of broader goals, extending beyond exhibitions?

I asked a couple of rhetorical questions in my first post -- to clarify, I personally would love to see the world's art stewards combine cash to save Iraqi antiquities, some of the greatest and most important relics of human civilization. Preservation of world culture has direct payoff for all cultural institutions in the long-range, holistic sense, but I'd be surprised to see that money be successfully pooled by strapped art institutions around the world. Why not bring the military into the fold of the "art community," and propose that peacekeeping brigades are obligated to "keep the peace" of cultural artifacts? Do I really think that's going to happen? No, but it's an example of rethinking definitions of community, institution, or captial investment to build a movement that benefits art and culture on a world-scale.

Art institutions should not really be positioned as competitive, many see themselves as supporting common goals. I'm just making examples of ways we can have a more interesting discussion about collegiality if we broaden the scope of the argument.

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