Lunchtime blogging: visitors as artists
Nina K. Simon tweeted “why don’t art museums treat the visitors as artists the way science museums treat visitors as scientists?” It’s a good question, one my schoolmate Perian Sully muses about insightfully at Musematic. More level heads than I can wrestle with the practical details, and better critics than I can discuss whether it would even be a good idea. I’m on my lunch break, so I just want to daydream about what it would be like.
Imagine walking into an art museum and, instead of getting a warning against cameras and ballpoint pens, you are handed a sketchbook and some pencils. You walk past an enormous illustrated chart of artists and their schools and influences to a wall of sketches, each slightly different than the last, culminating in a finished painting. A label below each sketch explains in general terms what the artist was trying to achieve at each step of the process. In larger text and simpler words, a museum educator’s voice invites you to follow along in your own sketchbook. In the next room, a class of blind children run their hands over a cast bronze replica before trying their hands at interpreting the planes and curves they feel in a modeling clay at a nearby table. Today is also local poet day at they museum, and local artists of a more literary medium are presenting poems inspired by particular pieces of visual art next to their muses.
What would this accomplish? I suspect in a generation there would be a lot more artists. But does the museum really want more artists?
— On the Road