[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Museum Schizophrenia

What the postings brought out is that the "museum" now attracts 2 
separate-- and slightly hostile-- audiences. Older baby boomers can 
remember when museums weren't mass entertainment (though the Natural 
History always was, I guess.) Now there's a real identity crisis in the 
art museums where I sometimes lecture to the docents. Are we a Family 
Outreach Center or an Institute for Advanced Study? Perhaps the answer is 
going to be, daytimes, we're family, and on TuTh in special evening shows 
for slightly more moola, Advanced Study. If you join the Members' Circle 
at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, you get to come to special evenings when 
you might actually stand in front of an undulating jellyfish without 
three kids my son's age standing next to you saying "Yucky!" On the other 
hand, my wife strongly approved that the SF acad. of sci served not just 
expresso and cake like my art museum, but hotdogs and stuff kids could 

Part of a general problem. In 1960s, living near the Met, I could take a 
book, on a weekday, and read undisturbed near a favorite painting. Thomas 
Hoving arrived with special shows and block long banners,  universal 
college education created a mass audience, cheap jumbo jets brought the 
whole world... try to get through the pandemonium near a Van Gogh these 
days..... but this is progress, isn't it? In Paris, to see the Mona Lisa 
over christmas I had to put my kid on my shoulders, so he could see above 
the mob. In Beijing, there are parks with more people than trees, and 
we'll get there eventually. 
That old elitist, 

George J. Leonard, Ph.D. 
Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities
San Francisco State University
530 Humanities Hall
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, California, 94132
Ph: (415) 338-7428
FAX: (650) 366-5045
Website: http://www.georgeleonard.com