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?