Saturday, August 11, 2007

My art museum

I walked through the galleries of my local fine arts museum yesterday. I looked at Chinese pots dating back 8,ooo years and British watercolors only a century old. I gazed upon glossy silver and coins from the Byzantine Empire.

And I thought about how everything in the place was so stripped of context, trapped in those sterile glass boxes with only little placards to explain what it was.

In my art museum, it would be different. If I were going to display Medieval English stained glass from a church, you would walk into a darkened room with worn brick beneath your feet and the smell of incense in the air. The glass would be upon the wall with sunlight or at least faux sunlight shining through it. And you would sit upon a wooden pew with period church music softly playing, and thus experience it the way the artist intended.

If I were going to display Russian items, I would turn the thermostat in the room down until it was almost frigid. And you would walk a few steps through some artificial snow to get to the exhibit and you'd hear murmurs of authentic Russian conversation and maybe have to pay with a ruble to get inside.

If I were going to display ancient pots excavated from a Chinese burial chamber, I would recreate the very ambience of that chamber, as if my visitors were the archaeologists who discovered it.

9 comments:

morinn said...

i know the feeling! it's just pointless to show pieces of different countries dating back to different time periods without putting them in their original context!
it kills the purpose of the object!

Open Grove Claudia said...

How fun your museum would be!! Of course, there's all those pesky concerns about safety - still.... I'd go!

eastcoastdweller said...

Morinn and Claudia:

Thank You both for Your comments. I said I wasn't going to add any more links but I'm a hopeless blog addict, at least for good ones, so ... may I? Both of You wonderful Ladies?

Claudia, every good teacher knows that adding fun helps the learning process. A fun museum might not only boost attendance numbers but also help improve my country's dismal relationship with history.

-Jeane Michelle Culp said...

Thank you eastcoastdweller for this post! I needed a nice mental mini-vacation today and I found such at your Art museum.

...Kat said...

Wonderful concept, your museum.

Until then we all will have to rely on our imaginations and own personal context to get as much as we can from the experience

Molly said...

I think you've nailed the reason museums are often thought of as boring....I especially like the idea of turning the temps way down for the Russian exhibit. Tough to get a real feel for what you're viewing concerning Siberia, for instance, if you're not shivering....

eastcoastdweller said...

Jeane: Glad I could send You on a no-cost vacation. And You didn't even lose Your luggage!

Kat: Yep, will have to do more research before I go next time. Try to get myself into the mood.

Molly: Maybe visitors could sip a little borscht soup and nibble rye bread before entering the gallery. Maybe authentic nature sounds from the region could play quietly in the background, and bells toll as if from a nearby Orthodox church.

Lizza said...

What a terrific idea. It would be like a time machine into the past or a portal to today's other countries. A visit to your museum would surely be an experience to remember.

eastcoastdweller said...

Lizza: Thank You for Your visit to my blog.

Al of You sweet commenters get free passes to my museum on opening day.