Occupy Wall Street, yes. Occupy Museums?

Image Courtesy of Jerry Saltz via ARTINFO

Are art museums elitist? Should we protest the injustice of non-universal access to art? Occupy Museums, a contingent of Occupy Wall Street sure thinks so. A group of several dozen OWSers protested yesterday at the Museum of Modern Art, Frick Collection, and the New Museum.

Noah Fischer, organizer of Occupy Museums, writes:

For the last few decades, voices of dissent have been silenced by a fearful survivalist atmosphere and the hush hush of BIG money. To really critique institutions, to raise one’s voice about the disgusting excessive parties and spectacularly out of touch auctions of the art world while the rest of the country suffers and tightens its belt was widely considered to be bitter, angry, uncool. Such a critic was a sore loser. It is time to end that silence not in bitterness, but in strength and love! Because the occupation has already begun and the creativity and power of the people has awoken! The Occupywallstreet Movement will bring forth an era of new art, true experimentation outside the narrow parameters set by the market. Museums, open your mind and your heart! Art is for everyone! The people are at your door!

To be perfectly frank, I was initially dismissive of Occupy Museums. Don’t we have bigger problems to worry about? But I can’t find fault with wanting museums to put on shows that seek to enrich the visitor’s understanding rather than just make money. Then again, I seriously doubt that many museum curators choose their line of work for the paycheck.

Can’t an exhibition be both culturally enriching and economically successful?

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One Comment on “Occupy Wall Street, yes. Occupy Museums?”

  1. disciullo says:

    I’m curious what Fischer’s ideal museum would look like. What would it collect and display, what programs would it put on, where would it be located, who would be its target audience, how would it interact with visitors, would it cost money, how would it be funded? I think many museums *are* headed in a more socially-conscious, community-focused direction (and I hope a direction that explores more controversial topics/dissident voices as well), but to do so deliberately is still a relatively new phenomenon, and there will be hiccups along the way.


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