Not all museums are the same. Not all exhibits within a given museum are the same



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ART MUSEUMS

Not all museums are the same.

Not all exhibits within a given museum are the same.

TENDENCY #1: Art museums are less “interpretive.”
Interpretive: explaining, telling a story, communicating

What we’ve been talking about all semester


Spectrum:

Fully-interpreted: every object (group) has label; multiple media

Non-interpreted: white box, minimal labels

And everything inbetween


(Some say art museums moving away from White Box; I haven’t seen it)
In an Interpretive exhibit: THE MUSEUM is telling a story, EXHIBIT is the medium
However, art is also a medium; artist is saying something.

Art museum provides forum

Doesn’t want to interrupt or impose

Not multimedia (Garner), because art is ONLY medium

Medium IS the message
Thus: myth of the uninterpreted space

As plain as possible (color, light)

“Let art speak for itself”
Experience, not explanation
Have a meaningful experience with the art itself, not the IDEAS (as w/ sci & hist)

Aesthetic

Totemic

Didactic
THREE PROBLEMS


1) Visitors don’t speak art’s language; need help

(Yenawie story)

assume talent is innate
2) Heisenberg uncertainty principle as applied to Museums:

Museum-quality

Pile of bricks
3) No such thing as no context

Two mammals (two rabbits; rabbit and capybara; rabbit and bird)

Two paintings (Picasso and Braque; Picasso and Rembrandt; Picasso and Pollack)

In fact, art museums spend a great deal of time considering #2 and #3.

Science museums communicate

Intellectually

Didactically

Reductively

Verbally
Art museums communicate

Emotionally

Intuitively

Holistically

Visually
Both attempt to convey messages, and to create experiences where visitors can find or create meaning.

Rounds: Science describes EXTERNAL world

Science museums build bridges OUT to connect visitor to content

Art describes INTERNAL world

Art museums build bridges IN to connect visitors to themselves
TENDENCY #2: The Curator is King
History:

curator as care-taker;

museums became associated with universities;

curator became researcher, expert;

when museums became more public, having expert in charge made sense
Now:

Children’s museums have no curators (no collections, no research)

History museums moving away (not respected, people reclaiming stories)

Science has them, recognize value of help in communicating esoteric info


Art museums don’t (Sousa story)

Lots of reasons, can only speculate


More subjective topic

Personal stake, not there in science


Collection and exhibition seen as extension of scholarly publication, thesis development and defense

Professional stake, not there in science


Perhaps art is visual, so distrust verbal exhibits

A scientist and historian write; an artist paints

An art curator is not an artist (science curator IS scientist, history curator IS historian)




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