Thursday, April 14, 2011
What’s in your attic?
There’s currently a trend among museums large and small to plan exhibitions featuring works drawn exclusively from their own collections—as opposed to mounting shows that depend heavily on loans from other museums. There are economic factors at work, of course: loan shows can be very expensive (for insurance, transport, etc.), and many museums are facing the prospect of declining endowments and the disappearance of deep-pocketed donors. But a number of museum directors and curators believe there are positive aspects to this trend. The director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York points out that focusing on the museum’s own collections is a good thing. Other directors echo the feeling that the permanent collections are the soul of museums. On the other hand, some curators feel that a show drawn from the collection will of necessity have gaps, and therefore can’t offer a comprehensive look at an era or art movement.
Recently, the Guggenheim Museum in New York staged two back-to-back exhibitions featuring many of the same works. Supporters feel that a little repetition is worthwhile, if it means seeing the collection more frequently. Other institutions, like the Museum of Arts and Design and the Studio Museum in Harlem, have presented their collections in small thematic shows, rather than just exhibiting highlights. The Cincinnati Art Museum brought out many of its unexploited holdings last summer and mounted nine small shows that highlighted different parts of the country. The results were gratifying: museum attendance increased by 30 percent.
Blockbuster exhibitions may well return as the economy improves. But for now, works that had been languishing in storage have been dusted off and had their moment in the sun.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Art in the News
Mental Floss magazine’s tagline “Where Knowledge Junkie’s Get Their Fix” is apt. Their column (which is updated, sadly, rather infrequently) “Feel Art Again” is a great way to get your art fix. The writer tends to take a look at some of art history’s little known artists or movements and write a bit about them. She includes, of course, some great visuals. You can browse their archives here.
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