Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Beyonce and Jay-Z take the Louvre

So far in my short artistic career I have yet to learn how to appreciate meandering through a visual art museum. I don’t feel like I have the knowledge or understanding of basics of art to fully appreciate what I’m looking at. In this article, the question of whether or not devices in a museum is brought up. As some may have seen, Beyonce and Jay-Z along with Blue Ivy recently visited the Louvre and took selfie’s in front of the Mona Lisa. These pictures went viral with many news outlets picking it up. However, it’s bringing some criticism to the idea of museum goers focusing more on taking photos and social media rather than the art that is around them.

As an arts administrator, we walk a fine line between letting people walk away without absorbing anything or feeling the impact of the art they just witnessed, to shoving art in their face. How do you help people to appreciate art without taking away other aspects? I think that the writer of this article makes a good point that by taking advantage of technology, users have more access to a variety of knowledge about whatever they may be looking at. I think finding the balance between technology and art will be a perpetual point of conversation within the arts world.


10 comments on “Beyonce and Jay-Z take the Louvre

  1. Samantha Sobash
    October 15, 2014

    Thanks for posting this, its really interesting to consider the way we currently interact in a museum space. I know for me when I want to go to a museum and really take the time to frame what I’m looking at I sort of need some solitude. Its definitely not a social experience for me. BUT it is for sure a social experience for many other people, so its difficult to find the balance as an arts manager of the types of behavior you want to encourage within a gallery or theater.

    I also think that using technology as a tool of patron engagement is an evolution that the arts organizations has made to keep up with society. But when do we need to stop letting technology change how we function, perhaps at a certain point we need to say technology has no part in this. I’m speaking romantically about the situation, but I do think it’s important to consider if technology is helping or hindering the mission of the arts organization and artists work in general.

  2. hshambroom
    October 16, 2014

    I think this conversation is less about technology, which can be used in very productive ways in the arts to give viewers a better understanding, and more specifically about photography in museums. When people are permitted to photograph in galleries, looking becomes less important than documenting. When the focus turns away from the works on view, and toward taking the perfect selfie to post to your instagram so all your friends can see you went to a museum, the very point of having works on view becomes null. Throughout my time as an arts professional I have worked in many museums with a variety of different photography policies. Personally, I have observed that permitting photography in museum galleries is highly distracting, both for the person taking the picture as well as other visitors who must consciously work their way around the photo-taking. It also often endangers the objects, as people become less aware of their space as they crane to get the perfect selfie angle. I agree that “technology coat checks” are extreme, but in my experience working at museums I feel that photography should in most cases be banned.

  3. cayleycarroll
    October 16, 2014

    How obnoxious. I did not enjoy the serious of photos featuring the celebrity couple galavanting around the empty Louvre. It highlighted privilege and opulence in a space that is supposed to be public. I agree that the selfie also indicates a lack of internalization of the art. If Jay and Bey were trying to show that “art is cool” they pretty much missed the mark on this one.

    • jaredchamoff
      October 17, 2014

      It’s actually Queen Bey… not just Bey! 😛

  4. cayleycarroll
    October 16, 2014
  5. hgenetos
    October 17, 2014

    Yaoge posted on how to go through a museum a few weeks ago by Kennicott. He stressed not using your phone and trying to engage. I know it is hard for me to disconnect especially stateside. I’m better about it when I’m traveling and don’t have a working phone. I have found that when I pick a playlist and use that to drown out everything around me I’m more engaged because I don’t think I hear my ringer just have to deal with phantom vibrations.

    Additionally, there was a study about how we do not retain memories of events if we are too busy photographing them. I think when we are focused on our instagramming of us in a museum, we lose the point of being at the museum in the first place. It becomes a way to brag and not a way engage with the arts.


  6. Jenni
    October 17, 2014

    For me, the biggest problem I see with technology being used in museums (or even at concerts, at shows, or even in public parks) can be that the user is so focused on getting that “picture of the Mona Lisa” that they actually MISS looking at the painting they’re taking a hundred pictures of for their Social Media.

    There are some bands I’ve noticed who ask their fans to put down their phones or mobile devices to really engage with them in the moment and to not witness their experience through a filter. Even in my own experience, sometimes I’m so focused on taking a video recording of a song that I miss enjoying the song, and then the recording is some crappy, distorted version and I never really get to enjoy it the way I should have. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to be careful to not be so focused on capturing a moment for Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/Whatever that we lose the real purpose behind the art and miss out on a true connection.

  7. dianalfreeberg
    October 17, 2014

    I think I fall into a category like yours Alex. #bromance

    I can appreciate the art in a gallery but I have very little background or familiarity with the majority of the work. For me, this situation is only a situation because it was Beyonce and Jay Z. When I searched the Mona Lisa hashtag on Instagram there are currently 277,826 posts. Some are pictures of her, some are selfies, some seemingly have nothing to do with the actual piece. None of those photos are the ones having articles written about them.

    In my opinion taking away cellphones is not an answer. In fact, I think it would make attendance drop. Although it would be nice to not have to hear a phone ring or a text tone in a museum- welcome to the 21st century! You hope people turn it on silent, but it doesn’t always happen. I would like to see museums, like the Louvre, take this situation and spin it for their benefit. I would encourage selfies in front of the Mona Lisa, using a very specific hashtag, and then create ads with all of the selfies like a collage around her. Could you imagine what buzz that would create for the museum?? Social media isn’t going away. In my opinion, it’s one of those things that you have to be on top of to survive.

  8. jaredchamoff
    October 17, 2014

    Thanks for the article Alex! I totally agree that in the context of an art museums smart phone technology has the capability to connect people and help them understand the arts.

    I also agree with what Samantha said about how attending an art museum is for some an entirely social experience. They go to an arts museum and treat it like they would the mall or something. This means taking selfies and looking chic. While this makes me cringe, it is what it is. At least by posing next to the Mona Lisa it shows that they are aware of its significance to culture. That’s at least saying something… Right?

    Anyway, in terms of society’s need to take selfies, and to document their entire lives (including art experiences), I love what Louie CK talks about in one of his more recent comedy specials. Check it out:

    He talks about how he was at his daughter’s dance recital and was baffled at how many of the parents were taking videos of the event on their iPads. They were looking at their kids dance from the ipad screen instead of just watching the performance live with their own eyeballs.

    I wonder why is it that we need to document everything we do?

  9. qfloyd
    October 17, 2014

    Awesome post! I agree with you! How can we as arts administrators get our visitors or patrons to see the art for what it is instead of seeing art for how it benefits their own needs. As a teacher, I struggle with this everyday when dealing with parents and administrators. How can I see what I do benefits the children as oppose to the aesthetically pleasing winter concert which you use to recruit more families but don’t put money into? In the age of social media and selfies, we have to get people out of the selfish mindsets and understand the art for what it is.

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