I’m currently in a graduate seminar about museums and collecting. It is difficult, stressful and somewhat overwhelming. However, I relish the challenge.
We have been put with the issue to write about a topic that isn’t very well researched, and I’m writing about something that I feel very strongly about both as a scholar and non-scholar.
I have been to the Louvre, the Uffizi, the Met (not the Hermitage yet, damn your distance, Russia!). ALL of these museums are overwhelming and too large, in my opinion. They are bulky and saturated with art. The average visitor will never be able to see even a significant portion of the collection, and is automatically defeated. How can the visitor cope with this, and how can the institution in question re-focus itself?
I personally felt exhausted by the Louvre, anxiety ridden in the Uffizi, and completely blown away but intimidated by the Met. I decided to do my own research and find the pieces I wanted to see beforehand at the Uffizi (Caravaggio’s severed Medusa head!) and while I didn’t get the chance to do this for my other museums, I felt it helped immensely. However, it is still problematic for the average visitor to NOT feel so overwhelmed by the prospect of visiting the Louvre.
Can you really say you’ve been somewhere if you saw less than 1% of it? That’s like saying you’ve been to Chicago because you landed in the airport there once. You have barely touched the surface, and this sort of illegitimacy in your experience, lack of quality and the definite impossibility of ever conquering or seeing a large portion of something can be somewhat sad.
Basically, I think this is an unspoken issue that a lot of museums, scholars, and boards ignore. That museums are wondrous libraries of visual wealth, but that their accessibility in that wealth is somewhat pointless if it’s impossible to realize for the average person.
Basically, I feel like Dwight pouring hot coffee on himself when I walk into these places because THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS AND FEELINGS AND I WILL NEVER SEE THEM!