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Museum policy

 
 
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 01:58 pm
I'm new at this, and haven't been able to get my first two posts to work, so I'm trying again.

My question is what do you think should be the policy emphasis of museums - collecting? preserving? exhibiting? Should policies differ depending on size of museum, location, etc.? What do you think of blockbuster exhibitions?
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Sugar
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 02:18 pm
Exhibiting
Preserving
Collecting

In that order - 2 and 3 don't mean anything if there's no one there to see it. And if 2 doesn't come before 3, then you end up with a pile of junk.

I don't think that it should differ by location. Although large exhibits sometimes bother me, it does get people into museums that may not normally go, exposing more people to art and driving more people to preserve it and pay the museum to collect more!
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 02:20 pm
I can't emphasize one over the other of your three options. You might consider posting a poll -- you can go into edit and at the bottom are the poll options. It will repost your topic with the poll attached. Policy emphasis might be a little hard to select, rather a poll on what one thinks is the most important function of a museum. In that case, I'd pick perserving.

The only true blockbuster exhibition I can think of in the last fifty years was the King Tut. Nothing has come close in generating museum visitors and a myrid of museum shop keepsake objects or media coverage. I guess the Van Gogh exhibition comes in second and there's a few following up including the Titanic exhibit. Haven't gone online to see what exhibitions would qualify as blockbuster but I would imagine they are few and far between.
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JoanneDorel
 
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Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 02:46 pm
First thing WELCOME to A2k Tomkitten Very Happy

Blockbuster exhibitions are what seem to drive major museums in the United States of late and there is a lot of competition between the major museums to see who can attract the most visitors the "block busters" was invented create the headcount. For example the latest exhibit in Forth Worth at the Kimball, a Piet Mondrian retrospective, they charged $50 a pop to see the exhibit, clearly an attempt to generate funds and to promote the museum. People in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and else where in Texas flocked to the museum. The headcount in turn generates more contributions from patrons and thus the museum can add to their permant collection and staff to continue their preservation efforts and hopefully enhance the community. And visitors generally buy the over priced catalogs and posters of the exhibits they see. That would be the upside.

On downside is the National Gallery of Art in D.C. did a major show on de Stile in the 80s, how many Mondrian shows and how often can the public be expected to support financially these exhibits. In addition, these shows are limited to those who can afford them, but what about the less fortunate, when do they get to participate in such cultural events at that cost. In the last fifteen years there have been so any Van Gogh shows I personally do not think I could do another one, but they draw the crowds and the money. But what about the new artists and newer work I don't want to wait a 100 years to see great work. The work of the two artists cited above is over 100 years old. I would prefer to see more devotion to the enhancement of the learning process and less devotion to the almighty dollar.

My preference would be for major museums to use there names to generate interest in art new and old and help create and enhance interest in new work. But it is the money that is driving these museums and to get the money they through together impressionist, post impressionist shows. Small museums of quality and people outside of major cities are not able to participate so the learning process which is touted as the reason for the exhibit it self is lost in the battle between the giants.
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 03:35 pm
museums
Wonderful post, JD. Thanks
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Equus
 
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Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 04:50 pm
It's an excellent question. SOME exhibition must be done, for the public's education and for fund-raising.

But I would put preservation above exhibition. Art/artifacts that are fragile shouldn't be on display, or at least not constantly. Only a fraction of most museum's total collections are actually on display.

Collection would probably also come before exhibition, but after preservation. The needs of future researchers/ scientists/ experts etc to study and learn from items is more important than the layman's saturday afternoon amusement.

So I would say
1. Preservation
2. Collection
3. Exhibition
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Tomkitten
 
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Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 05:03 pm
As always, Jonne Dorel covers a large subject with neat precision!

It seems to me that might (i.e. money) makes right (i.e. policy), and that's a pretty skewed approach to art and learning. Our local big museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts has recently done away with its lending library of slides which were used in schools and other venues for many years. Where was learning when that decision was made? Perhaps rather than paying exorbitant sums for new acquisitions, large institutions should devote more of their income to teaching about art.
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 05:21 pm
I was involved for many years with the Laguna Beach Art Museum and as far as policy, there was no priority stated for any of the three categories. In other words, we tried to equalize all the responsibilities as far as the patrons and contributors were concerned. I also had a client who became a good friend who was on the board at the Newport Harbor Museum -- same concern in their policy of concentrating on all three of the responsibilities. A touring collection that is well promoted can pack them in and at some pretty high ticket prices. The Getty is still free admittance with only the parking costing anything (very nominal). Their preservation is impeccable but their exhibitions are rather unexciting. They spent their entire year's funds (maybe even more) for the Van Gogh "Irises," when the sale to the Japanese buyer fell out and they jumped on purchasing the piece. Their collection hasn't grown very much. I think museums should equalize these responsibilities because I do see where there are museums that have slighted one or two of them.
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quinn1
 
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Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 06:33 pm
Shouldnt education also be included in the list somewhere?
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JLNobody
 
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Reply Fri 3 Jan, 2003 07:19 pm
museums
For a number of years at my university I served as the rep from my department on the museum committee--I was chosen because no-one else wanted to do it and because I got along with the museum people. Their continuing emphasis (in talking about and teaching about musuem policy) was on the educational function of musuems. So, Quinn1, I suspect your question is very much to the point. I do think that a (not "the") major function of museums is education, cultural enhancement, of and within communities. I do not know to what extent most museums receive public support, but I cannot see why not.
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JoanneDorel
 
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Reply Wed 8 Jan, 2003 12:03 am
q1 I started a topic inspired by your post re museums and education. Here is the link, I have not been active in it yet and had posted re the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), seems to have attracted some political conservatives, yike who knew I did not think they ever looked in the art threads, oh well. In any case you input would be welcome.

http://able2know.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2619
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roger
 
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Reply Wed 8 Jan, 2003 12:51 am
I usually don't, JD, but tomkitten started this one.
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Wed 8 Jan, 2003 01:54 am
Ai yi yi, how nice and lively. I think of museums and zoos in the same sentence, not to knock either. Zoos could be very much more animal attuned.

On museums, I would cry for preservation first, although I know there are intricacies of that, as in why preserve crap at great cost? But, generally, I am for preserving.

Collection and Exhibition seem to be handmaidens, to me.

Education, I would like to see a wide range of that, from the simple to the very complex, somehow orchestrated. Dream on, osso.

Most of my favorite museums are tiny, and most of my key museum moments are when I was alone or near alone in a room. I don't think alone in a room is as wild an idea as it seems. Wait til the group of seventeen moves on and be by yourself again.

In no particular order, some favorites are
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, circa 1976, before they fixed it.

Phillips Collection, Washington, DC (Georgetown), 1987.

Palazzo doria Pamphilj, Rome, 1993, 1999.

the Accademia in Venice, Italy, and the Pinacoateca in Siena. nuf said. I have not perspective on those, just glad to be in the rooms.

I will not mention the museums in Lucca, it was the yards I liked. Plus the town layout.

my teeny museum here in Eureka, which tries so hard (Morris Graves Museum).

I admit to liking the Monterey Acquarium.

The orphanage with the Orozcos in Guadalajara. Not unlike, in ways, the orphanage by Brunelleschi in Firenze.

I have been to the met in NY for literally ten minutes, and some other city museums. I have never had a bad time, y'know, but not always edifying. LA County Museum always left me cold. On the other hand, I am drawn to different paintings than the next person. I did like the LA Temporary Contemporary, tended to follow the shows there, found it exciting, early eighties that was.

My first date with my future husband was to go to an exhibit at LAICA (LA Institute of Contemporary Art, after an event at my then gallery, where we both laughed at the work.) I remember it though, and I was more impressed some time later.
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Wed 8 Jan, 2003 02:01 am
Ay, did I lose my post? one can't aparently check around here, as easily.
osso
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Wed 8 Jan, 2003 02:04 am
Excuse me, no, I didn't lose the post.
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JoanneDorel
 
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Reply Wed 8 Jan, 2003 02:38 am
Ahh, Osso The Philliips Collection one of my all time favorites, But so often there best pieces are on loan to other mueseums. So many sweet Saturdays spent there and then a late lunch in Georgttown, lots of good memories.
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quinn1
 
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Reply Wed 8 Jan, 2003 05:17 pm
I suppose I should expand.
As previous posts, yes I do believe that preservation, exhibition, and collection as well as education should be, and usually are general policy.
I dont think one alone could work without the others, nor would a museum function as well without any. But, there are exceptions, and Im sure a great many examples.
I just thought that since it had not been previously mentioned, it should be added.
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najmelliw
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Jan, 2003 05:46 pm
Yeah, the old theme... Money rules. This is one of the main reasons why I think that musea should be government funded, and this together with the ticketprice should be enough to keep them financially sound, without raising the ticket price so much that the poorer people cannot afford to look. Musea shouldn't be there to make money, they're there to give people a chance to admire artifacts from other cultures, or art in general, things they cannot see otherwise.

exhibiting
preservation
collecting

If a piece is too fragile, perhaps a copy should be made and displayed. That way people can still see and admire.
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JoanneDorel
 
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Reply Wed 8 Jan, 2003 08:47 pm
Roger you do to admit it.
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Thu 9 Jan, 2003 02:00 am
I went on this strange trip to italy by myself in 1999. Let me make perfectly clear that I am a woman on a tight budget string, and I went there out of will.
And two of the places I landed in were the two main museums of Lucca, a town near the coast of Tuscany. I was the only visitor in both museums. I was taken around both by women in good wool suits, so I sort of intermix them in my mind. I read italian but can't speak for .... love nor money, and so I participated in two pointing and smiling or frowning conversations. In glee, I must say that we could, after a while, at both musuems, react to each other on paintings. The hardest one was a painting where all the hands, of perhaps five women, met as if by chance, and of course I thought that was the key. Since I couuldn't touch the painting and couldn't remember the word for hands...
Well, it all worked out, we agreed it was wonderful. Museums should be for spreading joy.
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