February 5, 2016
A common claim made by museums is that restitution of artefacts would lead to gaps in their collection. They like to leave the impression that is the Parthenon Marbles went back to Greece, then the Duveen gallery would end up just lying empty, with nothing of interest to fill it.
As I have noted before though, the reality could not be further from the truth. The British Museum only has 1% of its items on display at any one time.
This article looks at various other examples, such as the fact that 108 Picasso paintings are not on permanent display in any museum, compared to 139 that are. This means that 44% of his works held by museums can not be viewed by casual visitors unless they are part of a special temporary exhibition.
Museums are not private collections – they get various tax benefits & government grants because of this fact. Surely their purpose is to display items for the benefit of the public – not to put it in storage?
It is worth looking at the original article, for the extensive graphs that it has to back up its case.
Museums are keeping a ton of the world’s most famous art locked away in storage
January 20, 2016
Most of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work is in storage.
Nearly half of Pablo Picasso’s oil paintings are put away.
Not a single Egon Schiele drawing is on display.
Since the advent of public galleries in the 17th century, museums have amassed huge collections of art for society’s benefit. But just a tiny fraction of that art is actually open for people to view and enjoy—including, it turns out, many works that are considered masterpieces. The dynamic raises questions about who actually benefits when museums collect so much of the world’s best art.
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