Museum Essay

743 words - 3 pages

Judith H. Dobrzynski’s article, “High Culture Goes Hands-On,” suggests that the museums current trend of providing visitors with “an experience” threatens the current model of providing “solace and inspiration” (Dobrzynski 3). However, I disagree with this conclusion. Interactive experiences and contemplative approaches can co-exist just so long as museums adjust in response to how our ever-evolving culture receives it. Transitioning from museums’ elitist paradigm is critical to creating a more accessible community-conscious design. Dobrzynski, on the other hand, views these differences as “shedding the very characteristics that made [art museums] so special” (1), a pessimistic sentiment that shows her contempt towards development.

Before we can assess the roles of a museum, what exactly is the institution? Didier Maleuvre explains museums as, “devoted to the protection, preservation, exhibition, and furtherance of what a community agrees to identify as works of art” (Maleuvre 9). As we develop new modes of interaction and technological advancements, are museums that provide interactive experiences and art works not included in this explanation? I certainly do not think so. Audience engagement should not be feared but promoted; the trouble, though, is finding the right balance. Maleuvre also believes that it was the museum’s responsibility to challenge the status quo, and its own cultural identity, which, provides further cause for change as museums have moved away from these standards (112). These are different ideologies followed today than what museums once used to as Stephen E. Weil points out, “the old-style museum’s prime responsibility was to its collections, not its visitors” (Weil 31). Providing proof that museums were not always stagnant institutions, but a system gradually changing over time. Weil further contemplates museums’ outdated way of governance when he explains, “a museum, in the end, is worth no more than what it is able to accomplish” (16), a concept museum’s today should adopt when considering its management.

Dobrzynski’s article shares great deals of critique on the quality and authenticity of the approach museums are using, going so far as to say “it will change who will go to museums and for what” (Dobrzynski 3), an offensive remark as the purpose of museums should be inclusion. Likewise, it takes certain levels of arrogance to judge...

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