Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Detroit puts tailfins on its art museum

It's an un-themed, de-contextualized thing.
You wouldn't understand.

I'm a little late with this, but it's about art, and we all know art is timeless.

The Detroit Institute of Arts has made the "visitor experience more interactive" and "re-contextualized" its artworks on display. Translation from arts manager jargon: the museum has been dumbed down to draw more bodies through the turnstiles.

Though ultimately a renovation of necessity, the new design shakes up the standard art-going experience, allowing visitors to forge a more personal connection with the works. "We've re-contextualized the works of art so they relate directly to the human experience," [gallery director] Beal said. "We're not trying to teach people art history." … The galleries, now easily accessible from what Beal calls a "main street" running through the institute, display themes to which visitors can relate, such as dining, travel and the cycles of life.
Excuse me? This wally doesn't think art relates to the human experience unless he and his mob of downshifting curators turns the "context" into a theme park? Well, he's apparently got his finger on the pulse of our times. The Washington Post, that great Voice of the People, is down with the new coolness.
DON'T MISS . . . several new interactive elements, such as a "virtual" dining room set up in a space surrounded by 18th-century European serving pieces and featuring a five-minute video simulating a lavish three-course meal. (No elbows on the virtual table, please.) . . . For the younger set, kid-friendly opportunities include "Please Touch" labels on various pieces, such as ivory and glass beads in the African collection, and "Eye Spy" panels that challenge tykes to find specific pieces of art in the gallery.
Why waste space on actual art when virtual reality is so much more fun? It's stupid to hang old paintings — I assume the museum still has a few of those — when you could put them on video monitors attached to computers, so the kids of all ages could re-pixelize the images to their hearts' content. How about big loudspeakers in each gallery to pound out hip-hop and disco? That's something Detroiters can relate to!

And, in fact, they did.

Connoisseurs at the opening reception for the
newly themed Detroit Institute of Arts.

Here's The Detroit News on the museum's re-opening gala:

Bodhisattva is a 1,600-year-old Afghan bust who lives at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

And on this Saturday night, she's got a clear view from her balcony above Prentis Court of the flashing lights on the DJ booth below and dozens of Detroit swells waiting to be tattooed by the cable-TV "Miami Ink" artist, Chris Nunez. Playing at the moment is the disco crowd pleaser, "Le Freak."

It's all a bit un-museum-like. Frankly? Bodhisattva looks appalled. If so, however, she's the only one.

Uh, not quite.

No comments: