BWW Reviews: The Metropolitan Museum - Too Much To Hang
Largeness seems like an American thing. We super size our meals, our homes and our waistline. Wasting much and consuming more and more we try and keep pace with the need for corporations bottom line growth that seems to grow on our bottoms and hips. So follow our Museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art- the big Kahuna on Fifth Avenue and 81st, 82nd, 83rd is my favorite Museum. I enjoy seeing the 10 plus Museums' buried inside this house of art for everyone. What I do not like is the fact that there are many more Museums' base-cemented on the MET's subterranian levels.
Why labor on this land issue, this space issue about basement deboucherie? Because your Museums are mostly vaults holding the best of the world's art dead, dying, decaying and unhung. What percentage of work in the MET's collection do you think is hug 50%, 25%, 10%? I shot the MET an email about the numbers and guess what, I still have not heard back...maybe they are counting them all and checking for themselves. Large Museum's know about this moral achilles heal. When they grow their mammoth spaces or redecorate the house with waisted dollars on fancy architects they always increase the wall space a bit-they'd be lambasted otherwise.
It is smart and easy to point out the faults in our society. On the contrary it is wise and difficult to propose solutions. The MET has a basement overload issue, what's the obvious solution? Think 1980's mentality. It is time for the MET to spin off herself and become a conglomerate of Museums in different locations.The MET attacked this expansion concept with Museum stores in several spots including a mall in the 1990's. Why did they do shops, are they a retailor? How successful was this and what was the point, to make money?
Marcel Breuer and the infamous oddly shaped Whitney Museum
The now old "New Musuem" has a stacked carton box look not unlike Breuer Whitney design. Wonder if a family move was happening when the moment of inspiration hit the two architects.
The opportunity is in the MET's grasps now to really expand. The Whitney got some big bucks a few years back and are trashing- okay maybe just running away from their old digs in the landmark 1966 Breuer building on Madison between 74th and 75th. The Whitney gang might be better off throwing out, decessioning-the C-word of the Museum world, their Hoppers and lower caliber art and upgrading to more and better Abstract Expressionist works but that's another story. The windfall has dropped on the MET. Just as they were doing a change up of their modern galleries the opportunity arose for the MET to house their soon to be limboed and de-walled collection in the Whitney. They have a two-year lease in Breuer's odd shaped box to do just that. No doubt they are thinking, should we make this the new home for our whole modern collection? Indeed that would be a blunder. The MET has always played catch up with modern and contemporary art.
In the last ten to fifteen years they seem to have made some inroads into the space of younger unsung artists. Indeed once you are at the MET you have sung and been sung to often already. At first you might think they should spin of a MET Museum of Oceanic art, A Met Museum of Greek Art or a MET for woman artists as restitution for past digressions and not letting the girls play ball. However, I have another idea. Why not let the new spaces be curatorial projects that pick from the MET's vast vaults and co-mingle several eras of art? Artist seem to make the best surprise curators and there is a wealth of just such creative eyes and hands in NYC today. Okay, you could let some traditional curators do their thing too. Maybe just a few baby MET's across the city would be cute. After all they got the art already. What's the word from the MET? It is sort of hush hush. The staff says they don't really know the plans and most New Yorkers have no idea they are headed for the Whitney's building.
While reading the mission statement of the MET you see it was updated (okay- the original Mission statement goes back to the 19th century) and the added words that jump out at you are "Collect and Preserve." The word "Exhibit" is in there too, they seem to have missed it and maybe the staff should re-read the mission. Where is it expressed that they should be the keepers and hiders of the vast treasures of man's and yes woman's aesthetic accomplishments of the last 20,000 years.
Museum directors are art world consiglieri that consider themselves the gate-keepers of the aesthetic torch, preserving and caring for the treasures for future generations. Is the MET too large and great to fail or does their largess come with a larger responsibility. Should their vaults be opened and the work be seen? Should art be housed, base-cemented for future generations who will be denied the opportunity to see the works except for once every 50 or 75 years as with many of the works in the current and brilliant exhibit "Interwoven Textiles 1500-1800?" Instead of building new galleries and fancy new digs like MOMA did maybe they should focus on the ratio of work in house in relation to exhibition space. Why not a use it or lose it penalty for vaulted works?
New American Wing storage solution;Imagine polishing all that silver!
Am I being to hard on the MET? Yes. The recent American wing certainly gets the work out with stacked shelves populated by thousands of works crammed together. Wonder if they were working on their ratio of hung to unhung when they designed it?
Funny how the word "Recommended" is smaller and italicized making it easier to pass over.
While thinking about the MET's changes to come it would be amiss not to mention the controversial admissions scandal. It has been underfire for a few years now, a law suit is in progress. Indeed news should break sometime soon and changes will come as the Museum dupped everyone into thinking they had to pay the 'suggested' admission price. Yes, like president Bill they did not have intercourse by defintion but they did seem to screw a lot of people out of $25.