“There’s evidence of a great passion for excellence that only the artist himself could define, and pursuing that passion seems to have been the basis of much of his self-torment.”—Chris Moore on Van Gogh in Sacré Bleu (400)
“When art is removed as the province of professional artists, a dangerous gulf develops… The fine arts are elevated and set apart from life, becoming too precious and therefore irrelevant. Having banished art to the museum, we fail to give it a place in ordinary life.”—T. Moore (1992) via Csikszentmihalyi
The modern museum finds the past isn’t enough and is evolving in the face of a changing world. The values of our visitors are shifting, they expect new forms of engagement, and their needs are changing. And, while the soul of the museum is a constant,the ways in which museums and their staff need to engage has to emerge in new forms. These changes aren’t championed or lessened by a single department or idea but requires effort from across the entire organization.
One thing we know for certain is that change is a new constant.
“You have to do that kind of work for yourself. If you do it for other people, you end up wanting them to a knowledge it and be grateful and to give you credit. If you do it yourself, you don’t expect other people to react in a particular way.”—The Happiness Project (blog | book)
Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
…Which got me thinking - isn’t this what always happens with art programming? With arts and music in schools? Why is qualitative evidence inferior to (often skewed) quantitative evidence? How long before government officials will understand that the benefits of arts education might not be able to represented purely in numbers and symbols? When will people finally understand the benefits of arts programming by listening to people’s stories? Isn’t it time already?
That’s one of our biggest challenges as art educators, and we will be tested time and time again. We need to argue for the effectiveness of qualitative research, and fight hard. Who’s with me?!
YES! I have struggled with this for so long! Thank you for this post, Liz! I always figured I struggled the quantitative because I’m simply not a numbers person (although sometimes numbers can be impressive). I’ve always been most affected by the stories of participants in my programs, too—I wish there was some way to turn those stories into numbers, to fit the accepted language. How do you feel about logic models?
I have been lucky enough to be a volunteer, unpaid intern, paid intern, and full-fledged hired employee in a lot of different museums–from the very small and specific, to the medium-sized, to the encyclopedic and kinda famous. As I’ve now completely transitioned into supervising interns myself rather than being one, I thought it was high time I write a post about how to go about getting an internship in a museum.
“There’s a common denominator in the human experience that we all share. We all want to know that what we do, what we say, and who we are matters.”—Oprah Winfrey at the Born this Way Launch event at Harvard
“Most art museums want to be professional purveyors of art. But I want to capture the spirit of art, which may be more important than art itself.”—Dr. Adam Lerner, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver (NYTimes)