Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Integrating local artists into arts museums doesn't happen very often

It is an issue everywhere that "local artists" tend to be ignored by (seemingly) local arts museums, when it comes to collecting and presenting their work.

I have become particularly clued into this problem in DC, where all the major "arts" museums are national institutions like the National Gallery of Art, the Hirshorn Museum, the Smithsonian American Arts Museum, etc., and they mostly collect and present the best of the dead artists.

There is no local museum that collects and displays local artists and works to support and development the local community of artists.  Instead, most artists who achieve prominence do so by going to NYC.

So while I am not in favor of how Miami-based artist Maximo Caminero destroyed a vase by Ai Weiwei displayed at the Pérez Art Museum Miami ("Miami artist destroys $1 million Ai Weiwei vase in protest," CNN), I can see his point.

Some cities where you have the juxtaposition of national, provincial-state, and local interests do have both "local" and "national" museums, and the local museum, such as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, collects and displays local arts.

Last Friday, I happened to go to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, Virginia and I was surprised to see that they have two galleries where they make a point of displaying contemporary art by regional artists.

That is very rare, but is more likely to occur in a museum in a small town, rather than in a museum in a big city, except maybe in the gift shop.

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At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes this is a huge problem for those of us who are artists here in DC- unlike other cities in the USA with major museum infrastructure the curatorial elitists running the show do not seem to be aware of the local arts scene or play it down off hand without even investigating what is here. I have seen museums in other parts of the USA recognizing their local artists a lot more- while in DC it is the same idiotic refrain" if you do this for on eplace then other places will get angry" - this is baloney and an excuse for the lazy and unimaginative. I once pointed out that in the national gallery museum store there are numerous items for sale from China , Europe- even other American countries- and yet they refuse to sell locally made artworks.. go figure- the museums and the artists could both come off winners but then again we have the same ivy league curatorial types who make up these arbitrary rules and curators who are NOT artists themselves- thats the real problem...

At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Christopher said...

The Phillips Collection (and even the Corcoran) used to do more of this. For TPC that was definitely part of their initial mission. It's sad that it has fallen off their radar as something worth doing. Part of DC's problem is that it doesn't really have a contemporary art museum in the true sense. I think if it did it would see supporting local art as a bigger part of its mission. MCA Chicago has a regular series devoted to emerging Chicago artists. Yerba Buena and SFMOMA do similar in the Bay Area. NYC of course has both PS1 and New Museum which show a lot of local work. Brooklyn Museum does an entire program around studio tours which are then voted on by Brooklynites and the best of the crowd-sourced curating appears in the museum. Even MoMA features a lot of local work, especially design work.


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