Most people have been to at least one art museum in their life. Thus, most people know that in an art museum, the air is still and usually over-air conditioned, and the rooms feel oppressively large. Combined with the silence of the cavernous exhibits, museums feel a lot like libraries. They are in-between spaces, designed to be moved on from.
With the rise in social media, physical museums have seen a decrease in attendance, while online art sites have seen an increase in traffic (artnet). This shift speaks volumes to the focus younger generations, like Gen Z, have placed on interactive gratification instead of visual entertainment. Within most genres of entertainment, younger generations have carved out a space for themselves to be a part of the experience. The same holds true for art.
What makes art so impactful is its ability to connect to an audience. Working with this loose definition, museums hardly make the cut. While Michele Robechhi, an editor for Phaidon’s Contemporary Artist Series, argues that museums “engage with a live audience,” it is obvious that this engagement can be accomplished outside of a typical art gallery. Not only can this engagement be achieved elsewhere, but museums are set up to discourage engagement with the art. There are limits to how close you can stand to the pieces, there are acceptable and unacceptable reactions to paintings, and then the art can be forgotten once you leave the building.
However, these unfortunate truths about the staleness of museums do not negate the importance of art. Instead, I implore you to consider art that is meant to be enjoyed daily, not occasionally. There is a reason we fill our homes with photos and paintings: we as a people desire to be surrounded by beauty. So why do we confine the most works of art to “no photography” museums? Bring the beauty out of museums and into the world, where it belongs.
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