. .
Home About Heresies Galleries Curators Heresies, The Book Data Base Museums Selection Educational  Program Participating Museums Look and Comment News Contac Us

Educational Program

conferencias roundtables workshops

All of the elements of the Educational Program are merely references and guidelines we are proposing for the museums to consider within their own activities.
conference 1
conference 2
conference 3
conferences 4
conference 5
conference 6
conference 7
conference 3
conference 9
conference 10
 

LECTURE 8

Title
The function of museums today

Audience:
Anyone who wishes to reflect on the meaning of museums today and what purposes they serve.

Subject matter:
In the age of the World Wide Web the concept of the museum is changing. It is expanding, which leads us to question whether its function should continue or whether it should change.

Some people think this sort of institution is outdated and its very existence needs to be questioned. Others believe that despite changes in technology, museums can continue as they are and they do not need to change. Both positions seem a bit extreme; perhaps museums should not disappear, but new ways of working can be explored.

The Internet is a device that has a greater capacity to disseminate culture than museums, with the disadvantage that perception is restricted to a screen. In museums one can enrich the experience of seeing art by relating to an object of a certain size and texture, and to experience the journey in space. Other senses can enter into the relationship arising from engaging with a piece through direct examination.

The disadvantage of museums is that they are institutions and no matter whether they are public or private, they function according to the policies of whoever finances it. Museums require a fairly high budget to be able to function, due to the fact they are managed by institutions and these generally have political and economic purposes.

For many years, museums served as spaces to exhibit the trophies European countries brought from conquered cultures. They also functioned to display pieces of art commissioned by whoever financed the museum and they served to reflect society as they understood it.

With revolutions, museums embraced a more social character. They declared that cultural patrimony belonged to everyone, not only the aristocracy. Thus, the former collections of the aristocracy became public and people began to go to museums that told them that what they were seeing on display reflected and defined them in some way. Thus, in the beginning, museum visitors thought of that space as defining their very identity.

Today museums of contemporary art seek to disseminate the work of living artists. Their intention is educational and they endeavor to publicize art and culture. Museums are places of learning, reflection, and entertainment. The number of visitors has increased and the major museums of the world receive between two to five million visitors per year.

All of this was fine and well until the rise of the Internet, which enabled millions of viewers to visit websites that could triple or quadruple the number of visitors a museum could never possibly accommodate. Museums have spatial and financial constraints, while the selection of work to be shown is a complex process, so much of the art produced is never even put on display.

The Internet has totally revolutionized this situation. Everything may be exhibited and everyone can decide what to see and what not to see. Even though the Internet does have limitations, such as the screen format, or the fact that some characteristics of the work cannot be experienced, one can understand the idea, above all when the concept holds greater weight than the production itself.

Museums can offer an enriching experience, but the time has come to examine how they can interact with technology to enrich the potential experience of visitors. While they are limited in space, the Internet isn’t. Their exhibitions can be enriched by printed as well as online catalogues.

The Internet has become a tool permitting the free distribution of information. If the museum’s objectives are to provide a service to society, perhaps it should expand its activities to the Internet to make the museum experience even more valuable.

In the case of the Heresies project, it is interesting to be able to interact with Pedro Meyer’s work in the museum, to view the printed photos in large formats with a visual quality different from that on the screen, to be able to walk through a space and see several images at the same time, and to make connections between them. After the exhibition has traveled to some 60 museums, one might think that was not enough, and then visit pedromeyer.com or zonezero.com to find out more about Meyer and his work, at the same time as getting to know the work of other photographers. And so exhibitions can set off a chain reaction spurring the viewer to pursue additional information.

What is important is that we are at a time that invites everyone to experiment and to seek new ways of being. Museums should not be done away with, but they can expand their services to spread culture to a wider audience.

Duration:
About an hour.

Speaker Profile:
A historian, researcher or photographer.

Materials:
A video projector and computer, depending on the speaker’s needs.


Sponsored by:

patrocinio

Copyright © 2008 Pedro Meyer - All Rights Reserved. Use By Permission Only.