The Museum as Experience (1)

It will not have escaped your attention that I have been doing most of the reading for my forthcoming book about museums after it has gone to the printer somewhere in China. There is so much that I haven’t read. At the moment, I am reading a book published earlier this year called The Museum as Experience: An Email Odyssey through Artists’ and Collectors’ Museums, which I thought was a distinctly unpromising title. I was quite wrong. It is an account of how an Italian-Swiss art historian, Dario Gamboni, persuaded his cousin, Libero Gamboni, to explore other private collections before turning his father’s house near Lake Como into a museum. It is the pretext for a really wonderful exploration of museums devoted to the memory of a single person, helped by the fact that it is a dialogue (yes, in emails) between an art historian who is deeply knowledgeable about the history of museums and his cousin who is deeply interested in architecture, with a strong sense of common intellectual curiosity and rapport. They write about art and culture, Goethe and Quatremère de Quincy, as part of a shared European inheritance, to be discussed, shared and explored jointly, in which the reader is able to participate vicariously, which is an extraordinary pleasure, listening through the keyhole of a joint conversation.

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