Director Thomas P Campbell who took over as Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York 18 months ago speaks out in an interesting interview on how he sees the new landscape of Art and the public’s relationship to it and how he is looking to position the Met to best fit in that world.
The Met has long had a distant relationship with Contemporary Art for half a centurty now almost and Campbell talks about that shifting possibly since he feels there is more of an audience for it then before and there is enough context to properly align it with the 5000 years or more of collected art under the Met roof.
Most interestingly Campbell talks about Contemporary Art as being the first step in a “fundamental shift” in the Met’s operation and presentation of displays. The goal in making them more accessible and a less steep knowledge prerequisite to even simply engage shows. Saying such things as:
“We assume people know who Rembrandt is, for example. We have wonderful, thoughtful labels next to each Rembrandt painting, but there’s no overview of who he was and, frankly, considering our international audience, I doubt whether many of them do know who [he] was, or the significance of a particular period room, in a broader context.
“What I’m trying to do is to get the museum rethinking the visitor experience from the moment that people arrive at the museum: the signage they encounter, the bits of paper they pick up, all the way through to the way we deliver information in the galleries. And obviously that’s an enormous task. We’ve got a million square feet of gallery space and tens of thousands of objects on display, so nothing’s going to change overnight.”
Thomas Campbell who is not looking to do anything radical with the Met’s conversation and was largely apointed for that reason among others is also someone who sees the writing on the wall a bit it seems when after trying to describe a Titian bacchanal to a Italian teacher at Christie’s to no success with typical termiology shifted gears to saying:
“It is a drunken orgy and they are all having sex!”
To which the point hit home and Campbell said his lesson from that was:
“Academia at its best embraces and speaks to a broad audience”
It will be interesting to see where he takes the self described “inward-looking” culture that permiates the Met currently and many organizations in the Art world.
More can be read here
The Chicago Artists Coalition is working to gather information about Business Licenses for artists. It has come to their attention that the issue of whether or not working artists need to obtain a license is rather convoluted and unclear.
Some are told yes, others no.
Also, some artists have received surprise visits from city inspectors and were cited for not having a license.
The CAC is working with a few others and a city Alderman to find out how many artists have run into problems with this issue and gauge what artist’s needs are in terms of licensing so that they can work to clear up any confusion.
To do that they need artist to please circulate this short (11 question) survey to for artists to to fill out so that when they go before the Aldermen on July 1st they can have clear survey data on how many
artists have encountered problems and how best to clarify this.
If you have any questions feel free to contact:
Media & Marketing Intern
Chicago Artist’s Coalition
This is the week the design world heads to Basel, Switzerland for Design Miami/Basel which opened in Basel, Switzerland Tuesday, a day ahead of Art Basel is closer then ever before if your curious about the design worlds activities. This year they are starting their own blog, the cleverly titled Design Miami/Basel Blog.
Posting images, quotes, news and other updates from participants in the fair like designers and gallery owners for fans and journalists alike. They even went as far as publicizing a RSS feed so nice to see someone is listening to the youthful techie in the group since the larger art world seems allergic to RSS feeds on a whole.
Christopher Knight, the Los Angeles Times Art Critic has written up an interesting article on Jeffrey Deitch’s start as Director (the fourth in 30 years) and gives his point of view on where the reality of life in LA can begin to match the goals of the Museum. Numbers mater in the Art world even if we don’t want to talk about it and MOCA’s attendance has been dropping steadily for years. Couple that with the fiscal mismanagement gamble back in 2008 where they created a budget that relied on donor money to cover around 80% of the cost (money that evaporated with the crash) and things were pretty bleak.
The consensus & expectation is that Jeffrey Deitch will bring the kind of shows and energy that will rally the general population of LA and raise attendance above it’s current 600 people a day. Think about that, 600 people, more people visit this site then MOCA in a given day and MOCA is spending $20 Million a year. MOCA has a wonderful collection and this isn’t a referendum by the people of LA on Art but on the growing disconnect between Art Tastemakers and the general population. A rift that has been growing for years with little to no abatement.
It’s not just LA, we have had the same debates on hours of operation & marketing of events in Chicago for over 5 years. Christopher Knight goes on to offer his advice on what Mr. Deitch might want to examine as Director and the second I can agree with aspects of, the first not so much:
1. General admission: take it from $10 to free
I have always questioned why everything needs to be free. In my experience people have a habit of discounting what they don’t pay for and it effects the overall opinion. Work at a bar (or the music industry these days) and you can see that in action, lines and a small cover even if they are annoying increase the overall pleasure of the experience as long as guests expectations are met once they enter. Also even if the door charge is less then 10% of the budget that is still a valuable/usefull daily cash flow even for an institution of that size. Art like any other business lives and breathes on cash flow.
I would suggest price pointing it at $5 a person and make it free to seniors, students & active military (for many solid reasons not worth rehashing here). At that price it has a real value, is proportioned correctly to films, concerts & other nightlife activities and doesn’t nullify the whole selling point of yearly membership.
2. Hours of Operation: take it from closing at 5-6pm & 8pm on Thursday to more befitting late nights.
No argument but very tricky and might not be as useful as even I thought years ago. This just might be a tourist/weekday local/weekend world we live in.
The one thing that Mr. Knight doesn’t tackle is the one thing that everyone is so afraid of about Jeffrey Dietch as Director, the “curatorial” focus of the exhibits and I think more so “how they are marketed to the world”. Everyone is waiting on baited breath since it seems no one has faith that an intelligent discussion on Art can be molded into a form of interest to the general public. That is the great experiment going on in LA and if it is successful could echo throughout the American Art World as a whole and faster then you might think.
Starting Memorial Day, May 31, 2010, through Labor Day, September 6, 2010 over 700 Museums will offer free admission to active military personnel and their families. This list organized by the National Endowment for the Arts & Blue Star Families (a non-partisan, non-profit organization, created by military families for military families) includes The Met, The MOMA, The Whitney, The Guggenheim, not to mention Chicago’s Art Institute & MCA. The complete museum list broken down by state can be found here.
This is a wonderful program that is both good politics, good business & good karma. I would love to see the Art Institute & MCA get together and lead the way by extending it to not only the summer but year round and for as long as America is at war. Our museums in all 50 states have a sum collection of history and culture that is unrivaled throughout the world. A treasure that every military personnel should be welcomed and encouraged to see with open arms.
Chicago is the city of tomorrow, lets have Chicago lead the way.
UPDATE: After speaking with Erin Hogan Director of Public Affairs with the Art Institute to clarify what the difference/change was in ongoing policy she explained that the established policy was active military were free but with Blue Star for the summer families of active military would be free as well. Also the website would be updated to better reflect this policy.
This is great to hear and hope it is a big success.