I spent the day after Christmas at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. It had recently been expanded and I hadn’t been down to see it. The experience–as usual–was a respite in the middle of the hectic holidays. And the expansion by Tryba Architects was just perfect for this historical structure.
What I noticed most was that the CSFAC does a fantastic job of showcasing Colorado artists. Not just from the Springs, but from all over the State. And not just deceased Colorado artists, but many who are still alive and kicking. I loved seeing this! I love getting local flavor when I visit a museum and hope that I do the same at other regional museums. However, I know this isn’t the case. In an effort to appear as a “big player,” most museums try to build up their collections to appear more national and international in scope. This often results in weaker collection. Not everyone can have the best examples from Mesopotamia, the Maya Kingdom, and ancient China. Those to hop on board the international train are often left with whatever is available, which isn't usually top drawer.
Why not be the BEST? Why not have a responsibility to interpreting and supporting the best artists in your community?
Admittedly, this was not my pure angle when I was a curator. I wanted to show the exotic and the new in my exhibitions. Collections, however, were different. I believe I was strongly supportive of adding local artists to the collections.
As a former museum professional, I must say that not every museum has (nor should they have) a part of their mission devoted to collecting and exhibiting work by local artists. However, we need some museums to take on this responsibility. What do you think?
(If you want to know more about how museums work, check out The Artist-Museum Relationship e-book and CD.)
PS: When will museum boards realize that if they have a Dale Chihuly chandelier in the entry they end up looking like every other museum entry in the country? I love a good Dale Chihuly as much as the next person, but let’s stop this cliché.