On thursday I went to a panel discussion at American University. The Smithsonian Associates and American University are partnering to bring programs highlighting and discussing the arts. This particular panel discussion was on the future of museums. While there were many topic that were discussed, many of which I plan on going into more detail here in later posts but one question that was raised dealt with the role of museums in the 21st century. In the past museums and galleries had been spaces for archiving and storing important cultural works. Oftentimes considered stuffy establishments. When I think of museum in the past tense the image of early British Anthropologists always comes to mind. Individuals gathering information on the primitive and bringing cultural property into institutions for further examination, but today museums have the ability to become very different environments.
Lately I have felt like my computer and I are attached at the hip, I am constantly multi-tasking the hundreds of things I have to get done during the day. The semester is winding down for me and I feel that without my computer constantly at my side I am not being as productive as I could be. On those days when I do leave it at home, because carrying it around as I run errands all day is just to cumbersome, I make sure to have my iPhone so that I can stay connected with the world. We are so “connected” that leaving our electronics at home can sometimes be an overwhelmingly stressful experience.
I’ve found that going to a gallery or museum calms this. In this space I’m not on a schedule, I’m not constantly in contact with people, but I feel connected in a different way. I feel connected to the artists and the history of the pieces that I am seeing. Museums can provide us with a means of slowing down, of disconnecting from the crazy internet driven lives we live everyday and reconnecting with humanity. The arts are the visual representations of human existence. They are filled with the emotion and power that the internet and our gadgets can never possess. The American Art Museum hosted an event 6 months ago called Slow Down For Slow Art where they asked people to slow down and really look at the art in the museum. Rather than try and see all the works in the museum, view a few pieces and really see them, think about them, and then discuss them.
Museums and galleries can offer us a place to turn of the cell phones, close the computer tops, and just be.