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intimate and as fresh as news

February 20, 2009

[NYTimes] Cease and desist is the advice I give university administrators toying with thoughts of closing their campus museums and peddling the art, as Brandeis recently threatened to do. Just stop. Period. Bad way to go.

If it helps, consider your museum and its collection in purely materialistic terms, as a big chunk of capital, slowly and fortuitously accumulated. Once spent, it is irrecoverable. Your university can never be that rich in that way again. Or view the art in your care as something that doesn’t belong to you. Like any legacy it belongs to the future. […]

University museums are unlike other museums. They are not intended to be powerhouse displays of masterworks, though some have their share of these. They are, before all else, teaching instruments intended for hands-on use by students and scholars. As such, they often house objects that are considered of second- and third-tier value at auction but that fill out a deep and detailed account of cultural history. […]

The august public museum gave us fabulousness. The tucked-away university gallery gave us life: organic, intimate and as fresh as news. (Read complete article)

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