I’ve Hit a Wall At the Museum

Bravo! This placard is in-depth! Compelling! Sparks curiosity! I want to grab my gallery neighbor and sit down and chat about body fluids!

There’s the mud-flinging debate going on about whether museums do a good enough job with those rectangular wall cards that appear below eah artwork that describe the work you are staring at. I’ve had a wide-ranging experience with their helpfulness; sometimes it varies by curator, sometimes it’s the product of an entire museum that fails a standard. (Good: Cleveland Musem of Art. Bad: Corcoran Gallery in DC.)

Some merely provide the name (often “Untitled”, sigh), dimensions, and year created (see below). Oh, and maybe the owner/benefactor (shout out to the exibit’s bankroller!)

I want the historical context, the art period and artists of influence, the artist’s world view, the intricacies of the artist’s bio spelled out right there before me. Given more information, the experience is that much richer — as much to process as possible. I think it gives the piece even more dimension and richness.

Alternatively, some people don’t like to be “told” what is going on in a painting; they like the unfold the mystery themselves. OK, so don’t read the placard.

Grrrrr. This placard is stark. Rote. Devoid of creativity. It leaves just me and the artwork, baby.


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