Monday, July 28, 2014

It's a (Going) Concern --- Day 3/197

Walk: Presidio, Laurel Village, JCCSF, Trader Joe's, Sacramento Street
Distance: 5 miles and take yoga class

Crowds in front of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre

It's a concern.

A few decades ago museums worldwide began to brain storm about how to lose their (largely deserved) elitist images. The impetus was, let's face it, economic survival.

So they began training docents to make tours more accessible and fun, more children (many!) were invited through outreach programs to schools, there were more user friendly wine and music 'happenings,' a lot more publicity, restaurants were upgraded or added and (very lucrative!) gift shops were added. (These tactics were based largely on the 'gunslinger innovations of Thomas Hoving, the larger-than-life director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1967 to 1977).  Oh, my dear, this was so painful to old time patrons and museum personnel - until the money, ooops, people started coming and buying those lunches and gifts and the institutions were on firmer financial footing.

The growth broadened and expanded slowly and surely.  Everyone adjusted.

Then came the internet hyping blockbuster or just meet up shows.  Then came cell phones and ipads with cameras. Then came selfies.  Travel and leisure exploded at the same time.

And now there's a new concern: crowds.  How to manage them? How to protect the art from their humid body heat, and unwieldiness? How to offer an intimate - or at least relaxed and enjoyable - art viewing experience? What to do besides timed tickets, limited viewing times, larger security staffing, listening devices?

There are suggestions: buy catalogues instead of actually attending (then you can spend quality time with the work as well as be educated), go to lesser known venues (if there are alternatives in the area), go in the off-season (if you can, you know, get time off), and the very doable spend months in Paris, London, Rome, Florence, St. Petersburg, etc.  Clearly not long-range, broad-based solutions.

Ciwt is lucky because she has odd hours and access to two local museums so she can go often and at off-times to the art shows in San Francisco.  But, leave the Bay Area, and she's in the same crowded boat as everyone else.  It's a concern that has altered the art communing experiences of many dedicated art-goers like Ciwt who go to be with the art.

(See Day 3/6 for crowds at Hockney show; sounds like they would be even larger now - just a few months later)

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