Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
I read this article last week in the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “Art: Don’t Forget the Whisper.” It’s an opinion piece written by an art critic about the proposed renovations and expansion of the Philadelphia Museum of Art designed by Frank Gehry – but the introduction shares a visitor experience that resonates with me. It begins with the author recalling a museum experience he had at the tender age of 15 and a quote from Donna Tartt’s novel The Goldfinch:
“You can have a lifetime of perfectly sincere museumgoing where you traipse around enjoying everything and then go out and have some lunch. But . . . if a painting works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think, ‘Oh I love this picture because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey, kid. Yes, you.”
What I like about this article, and why I wanted to share it, is the two-fold approach to “the visitor experience.” At first read, the author describes a very personal interaction with a piece of art that because of the way he describes it, seems like such a personal moment would be outside of an organizations ability to craft. But a few sentences later, the author is encouraging readers and visitors to think about the proposed renovations and how they might interrupt or enhance that personal moment. He calls on the trustees and museum administrators to preserve these sacred moments and the mission of their museum. I think this is a great example of the complexity of decisions arts organizations face.
What do others think of the complex issue (way beyond the lemonade stand!) of museum renovations and expansions?