Wednesday, July 23, 2008


There's nothing like leaving your comfort zone to broaden the outlook. I have had a busy summer and a few museum trips worth noting in this vein. My knowledge of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was secondhand until recently. I visited the museum for the first time this month. I had heard from museum educators that the SFMOMA had some impressive programs and they were keen on the technology integration. Their website certainly attests to this notion. I visited the Frieda Kahlo exhibit and was shocked, however.
I have rarely been more claustrophobic. I have never seen so many people pushing, shoving, and clamoring to see artwork in a blockbuster exhibition on a weekday that exhibited such a lack of courtesy. I thought I might suffocate it was so crowded. The galleries were not well attended, either.
I watched a backpack scrape against a Miro painting while a student posed in front of it for a snapshot. I watched a couple step on part of the What happened to the preservation part of the mission statement at the SFMOMA?
This is a great example of why the argument for/against the blockbuster museum exhibitions has arisen. I am not the first person to mention this issue see here. The presentation of objects for mass culture has several problem areas, safety of the objects being only a small part of that criticism. The danger of "dumbing it down" or creating an airport/mall/generic public space are also concerns. Then again, perhaps I'm taking the social role of museums too seriously. Where do you stand on the subject?