Ruskin and the Idea of the Museum

Tristram Hunt was giving the Paul Mellon lecture on Ruskin and the Idea of the Museum.   It was a very impressive way of exploring Henry Cole’s original mission and intent by contrasting it with the ideas and beliefs of his much more famous contemporary, John Ruskin, who did not like Cole, was hostile to the rigid method of teaching drawing in the Government Schools of Design and its doctrinaire and utilitarian intent.   I had not realised that the first School of Design was established in 1837 in Somerset House in the Great Room as soon as the Royal Academy had vacated it, a very obvious symbol of the government’s determination to shift the teaching of drawing from the practice of art for its own sake to the benefit of industry and manufacture, a sterile methodology which William Simmonds experienced fifty years later just before the Schools of Design were turned into the Royal College of Art.

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