Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Government reflections on access to culture

"MAP - The chartography game", a performace by the association A PELE (image taken from the website of the National Theatre D. Maria II)

The Culture White Paper (published by the Department for Culture, Media and Sports in March 2016) sets out how the British government will support the cultural sector in the coming years. It’s the first document of its kind in 50 years and the second ever published in the UK.

The document opens by quoting British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who states: “If you believe in publicly-funded arts and culture as I passionately do, then you must also believe in equality of access, attracting all, and welcoming all.”

Sunday, 29 May 2016

First in our hearts

Image courtesy of the National Museum Soares dos Reis
How could we define the 'first' museum? Is it the one that best fulfills its mission? Or the one thar comes first to mind when you hear the word 'museum' (every marketeer’s dream)? Is it the one that has the biggest collection or the one that has the best collection? Is it the one that makes more exhibitions? Is the 'first' museum the one that produces a lot of news for the media, but continues to work for the same elite? Or is it the one that rarely makes the news, but works to diversify its 'elites'? Which one deserves to be considered 'first'? And who assigns the 'primacy', the museum to itself or the audiences, actual and potential, that benefit from its action?

Saturday, 7 May 2016

So what?

“So what?”. A frequent question/reaction concerning our field, whether verbally expressed or secretly thought. It’s a legitimate question and one we are rarely available to discuss.

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, "Retrato de Marten Soolmans" e "Retrato de Oopjen Coppit" (imagem retirada do jornal Telerama)

When I had first read the news about the joint acquisition by the Louvre and Rijksmuseum of Rembrandt’s Portrait of Marten Soolmans and Portrait of Oopjen Coppit, for €160 million, I didn’t exactly think “So what?”, but rather “Why?”. Why these two paintings? Why all that money? Once I tried to understand a bit better the importance of the paintings (whatever importance that might be, within the context of art history or any other), I was most often confronted with the adjective “rare”. The portraits are “rare”, being exhibited in public was extremely “rare, etc. etc. This brought up even more questions: Rare how? Why should they be seen more often? Why did these two public museums make such a huge (financial and collaborative) effort to acquire them?

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

European Culture Forum 2016

Andrej Isakovic / AFP / Getty Images
A short intervention today in the panel "Can culture help to overcome the fragmentation of society?". Read here

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Recent past

Exhibition "Return - Traces of Memory", Lisbon

A few weeks ago I read Lily Hyde’s text Living Memory II, questioning the construction of narratives out of recent historical events. In this case, the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine and specifically in the town of Slavyansk. A bit more than a year before, Hyde had talked to the Slavyansk Museum director, Lilya Zander, who was already collecting Trophies from an incomprehensible war. At that time, the museum director had said that “Our job is to tell the history of our region”, adding that “the museum is not trying to show ‘for’ and ‘against’. We’re trying to show the facts.”

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Peacocks, ostriches and a third way

Anne Pasternak, Brooklyn Museum Director (Photo: Erin Baiano for the New York Times)

A few weeks ago, I read about six curators at the Canadian Museum of History who expressed ethical concerns about the purchase of artifacts recovered from the wreck of the Empress of Ireland. These concerns included the manner in which the artifacts were collected and the fact that the museum paid for artifacts from an archeological site. Not only were their objections dismissed, but the museum hired a lawyer and threatened them with legal action, were they to repeat their concerns to anyone else. According to the museum President and CEO Mark O’Neill, “Internal discussions like this are normal, and frankly, making them public is not” (read more). This statement left me thinking which would be the ‘OK’ subjects to discuss in public and, frankly, how come the conditions of acquiring objects for the museum collections is not one of them.

Sunday, 17 January 2016