Looking through my notes for 2013 I stumbled across this blog post that I was working on back when I first saw this installation by Luis Camnitzer hanging outside the Belkin Gallery at UBC. Enjoy!
Museums are not just places to store and exhibit works or art, or historical interest, they are where societies, groups and even individuals make and recreate themselves.
“The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was…. The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you’d be so much older or anything. It wouldn’t be that, exactly. You’d just be different, that’s all. You’d have an overcoat this time. Or the kid that was your partner in line the last time had got scarlet fever and you’d have a new partner. Or you’d have a substitute taking the class, instead of Miss Aigletinger. Or you’d heard your mother and father having a terrific fight in the bathroom. Or you’d just passed by one of those puddles in the street with gasoline rainbows in them. I mean you’d be different in some way—I can’t explain what I mean. And even if I could, I’m not sure I’d feel like it.”― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
This is not a problem, it is the glorious result of diversity and ever changing complexity.
Museums try to speak to that complexity.
Our job is to question, inquire, investigate!
A museums job is not to make us feel good- but to make us think!
So if you are in a museum and you see something you don’t like, if something offends you, or if an exhibit evokes emotion or memories- think about why, say something, tell someone.
If a museum makes you think, it’s doing its job.
This is what museums are for.