Thursday, August 30, 2007

The rough-and-tumble world of museum curation

We've all (hopefully) been to an art museum before and gazed at centuries of paintings, sculpture and handicrafts. But how did all those things get into that one building? How does a museum acquire art, decide where to put it, how to light it, how to clean it, how to protect it, how to promote it, and when to remove it to storage? Danny Danziger explains the ins and outs of running a museum in his new book. And it's not just any museum, either. Museum: behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art details the inner workings of the grand dame of American art museums. [I was fortunate enough to go there on a college field trip - Art History 101 - and it is a truly wonderful place. The Egyptian room was my favorite]. The nicest thing about this book is that it shows you what a collective effort is required and the wide range of people who are attracted to caring for the art of human civilization. Danziger interviews a cleaner and a plumber as well as the Director. There is a curator devoted especially to armor, and another for costumes. There is a florist who spends 5 hours a day just doing the flower arrangements for the Grand Hall. The common thing amongst all the people who work at the museum is their deep devotion to their job and their realization about the importance of providing access to the history, beauty, and stories that comprise Art. This is a fascinating book.

No comments: