So often I come across thoughts about art that do not conform to the structure of the Do This! newsletter for artists. A recent trip to New York confirmed my desire to find a place to post these thoughts and this blog was born.
As a former museum professional, I have seen many, many museums. And I have been behind the scenes in most of them. But I have never seen anything like this. A friend, artist, and former colleague (who is now an employee at a major New York museum) took me on a "tour" of their storage facility. Located far from the actual museum building, this facility houses the art that is not on view or on loan. I don’t know what their percentage is, but when I was a curator we had space to exhibit between three and five percent of our collection. That means 95-97% was in storage! That’s a lot of art that doesn’t see the light of day very often.
Anyhow . . . we walked by the mass of crates, which protect the sculptures they were specifically built for. The areas had been numbered so that works were fairly easy to locate (it was far too packed to create rows for the crates). My friend said that if they had a request for one of the sculptures in the back of the room, it might take them two or three days to "dig" it out because of all the heavy lifting required.
Then we looked through the screens of paintings. (If you don’t know how paintings are stored in a museum, the proper way is on metal screens that allow air to circulate among them.) They pulled out their favorites, along with those they love to laugh at and joke about. I saw at least three paintings that I knew were valued at around $40 million each. And this warehouse was PACKED!
There is a lot of art in this world. A lot of really wonderful art. Some will be lucky enough to make it into museum collections, but is that really a good thing? Is it art if no one ever sees it?