An interesting perspective her, advocates breaking up the largest museums, to allow visitors to enjoy a better experience there, without such high levels of crowding. Institutions such as the British Museum regularly crow about the number of people who visit (with the implication of the statements being that they all see the Parthenon Marbles), but the reality is that this tells nothing about the quality of the experience.
The idea of splitting museums into more manageable chunks is nothing new – London’s Natural History Museum, the British Library & the now sadly defunct Museum of Mankind, once all fell under the auspices of the British Museum.
Some in the industry talk in horror about any event that might lead to a reduction in the collections of the encyclopaedic museums, but the reality is that if current trends continue, such breaking up of collections might become a necessity. As such, once this happens, surely restitution requests would not be seen in quite the same light as they are now, as breaking apart the integrity of a collection that had been amassed over the centuries.
Crowds at the Metropolitan Museum in New York
Break up the major museums to save them
August institutions should build more outposts rather than cloister themselves in big cities
August 31, 2014 6:00AM ET
The Louvre in Paris recently told The Art Newspaper that it expects its visitor numbers to rise by a third over the next decade, putting the world’s busiest art museum on track to welcome 12 million visitors annually by 2025. It’s a staggering figure that points to a growing reality facing art lovers and museumgoers: How can you expect to see and enjoy art through the chaotic crowds that are increasingly defining major museums?
In the last few years, many of the largest and most popular museums, including the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, have been experiencing significant issues with crowding. The head of visitor services at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg recently admitted to The New York Times, “Such a colossal number of simultaneous viewers isn’t good for the art, and it can be uncomfortable and overwhelming for those who come to see the art.” In the same article, an art historian disparaged the situation at the Uffizi Gallery, home to some of the most famous masterpieces of the Renaissance, saying, “It seems like a tropical greenhouse. You can’t breathe.”
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