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RE: Museum Schizophrenia

Everyone should please remember that museums are ill-funded
public institutions which have to justify their budgets by public 
usage. They also have a distinct educational mission which
can be thought of as complementary to the public school system.

One reason I like computer-based exhibits is that they can
be changed to reflect differences in the prevailing scientific
viewpoints by a software change. The reason that the
big "hardware" exhibits are only changed every 50 years is
that the cost is so high.

> ----------
> From:         George Leonard[SMTP:gl91bciiLt@earthlink.net]
> Reply To:     gl91bciiLt@earthlink.net
> Sent:         Friday, March 12, 1999 2:07 AM
> To:   Dinosaur list
> Subject:      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 
> eat. 
> 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 
> 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