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Museums: A Special Section [Free registration required for some of the articles included on this site]
The Institute of Contemporary Art [Macromedia Flash Player]
Off Center: Outside Ideas From Inside the Walker
What is Art and Why Does it Matter? [Macromedia Flash Player, Real Player]
While museums have been a feature of human existence for millennia, a slight wrinkle in their function (and form) came about only a decade ago when the shiny surfaces of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Bilbao was unveiled to the public. What had formerly been a somewhat sleepy town in Spain was in many ways transformed by the attention paid to this structure, and suddenly museums were seen as ways of reinvigorating the local economy in a novel and compelling way. In the United States alone, forty-six new museum projects are currently underway, and half of these projects have hitched their star to the promise of what some planners and policy wonks are calling the new "cultural economy". Not all museums can afford such ambitious multi-million dollar expansion projects, and a number of niche museums continue to struggle. New York Times columnist Holland Cotter commented wryly on the double-edged sword of success in the museum world. In a recent column, he remarked, "the more successful a museum grows, the more elitist it tends to become."
The first link will take visitors to an article from this Wednesday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette which discusses the statewide effort in Pennsylvania to attract more visitors to museums and related destinations. Moving on, the second link leads to an interesting column by the Toronto Star's Martin Knelman. Here, Knelman talks about the attempts in Canada to create a national museums policy and its implications in the different provinces and urban areas. The third link will take visitors to a rather comprehensive special section of this Wednesday's New York Times dedicated to reviewing some of the latest developments in the museum world. Visitors can view several interactive features that profile new museums, the increased use of podcasts in museum tours, and the complete essay by Holland Cotter mentioned above. Speaking of new museums (or new buildings for old museums), the fourth link leads to the homepage of The Institute of Contemporary Art, which moved to a dramatic new structure located on Boston's waterfront. Visitors can view information about their current and upcoming exhibits here, and also check out some of their podcasts. The fifth link leads to the very cool "Off Center" blog created by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Here, visitors can learn about new developments at the Walker, add their own comments, and also read about other goings-on in the world of contemporary art. The final link leads to a most enlightening website created by staff members and others affiliated with the Yale University Art Gallery. Visitors can learn about controversies in the world of art, learn about the details of select objects in the museum's collection, and even take in an alternative audio guide to the Gallery.