Living Large

Thinking About Museums Thinking About Themselves

Museums are great. The problem is, too many of them have started to believe what they're doing isn't just good, but necessary. Too many curators seem to want to teach or preach to us; many are more interested in being do-gooders than in doing good by art. It's as if they don't think art is up to reaching people on its own. The truth about all this is, art's a lot of things, but one thing it's not is necessary. It might have been to cavemen, but it's not now, not to us. Most museum people are dedicated to art in ways that go far beyond the frequent-flyer miles, didacticism, and the after-hours goings-on. Although many need to lighten up on the museum-as-educator or purifier-of-souls thing, most want what we all want. As Gilbert & George put it, "All we ask is to be with art."

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