The Art Museum In Modern Times (talk)

There is a risk that I might eventually overdose from talking about museums, their opportunities and travails, but, at the moment, I am very much enjoying it because every interlocutor asks different questions and has a subtly different perspective. And, also, what I am discovering, which should have been obvious, is how completely different it is talking from writing about museums. So, for example, I was asked on Monday for my views of the relocation of the Barnes Collection. I had been careful in my book to describe the process and not be too judgmental. Even now, I’m not sure of the answer: good in so many ways; a good modern building accessible to so many people, the original hang reproduced meticulously, and exhibition rooms alongside. But inevitably, some of the idiosyncratic atmosphere of the old Barnes can’t be reproduced, however hard it has been tried.

Then, it is amazing, as has been pointed out, how short the lifespan is of so many of these new museum projects. The Ondaatje Wing still feels new to me, but is in the process of being overhauled. The Sainsbury Wing is going to be revamped. Tate Modern 1 was followed instantly by Tate Modern 2.

On the day after it has been announced that Lacaton & Vassal have won the Pritzker Prize, maybe it will be no bad thing if we are entering a new era of Make Do & Mend.


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