Wednesday, May 23, 2007

dumb and dumber

The DIA is stirring up more attention about their "stupid labels".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

arts institutions have to cater to the masses now or die. they have to get more dollars at the front door because the government is cutting funding left and right. we may not like it but that is the way it has to be.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's face it, it costs $$ to keep the doors open . . .
I'm sure they are not thrilled with the idea either, but if it brings in more people . . .

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the art that should be the hook, not a lot of flash and glitter techno. The art should be strong enough to pull in the masses. The DIA has a great collection and they just need to get that point out to the masses. They should also include Detroit and Michigan artists' work - there's an audience to be found there as well.

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that because of the shift in our socioeconomic status, letting the art and the art alone be the draw is a very classic perspective that unfortunately, is leading to the demise of the DIA.

"The art SHOULD be strong enough to pull in the masses," but when there is a gap between the knowledge and the viewers, something must be done to bridge it. Catering to those who know the information is fine and dandy as long as those who don't know are able to join in on the fun. Go ahead and isolate the immediate community that provides the support and bodies for this museum. Maybe those of us who have a traditional perspective on how artviewing should be- should reconsider our approach and see if there's room for innovating the institution for a contemporary dialogue with old ass art objects.

Another criticism i have on those who critisize mr. beal's decision is that people can't seem to separate themselves and their own desires from what is really needed. Honestly, do we really consider those outside of our "world" or do we even know what that means? Do we know specifically or personally who this renovation is tailoring to? Does Beal know? Lets consider more than what we know traditionally and band together to reinvent the institution which hasn't changed at all anywhere.
Fuck all of the other museums that this discussion and debate will be compared to, they're not in Detroit, they're not in MI, and reviewing trends can only go but so far.

Oh yeah, I just bought a cadillac...

2:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"but when there is a gap between the knowledge and the viewers, something must be done to bridge it"

Why not let artists bridge that gap, instead of toys and placards?

3:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

spend the money on advertisement and special events for the average person, not obtrusive distracting informational material.

did anybody see what happened at the end of the movie Night At The Museum, all from some unexpected creative "advertisement"

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"spend the money on advertisement and special events for the average person, not obtrusive distracting informational material"

Duh, where have you been for the last decade? Have you not seen all of the advertisments, tv spots, etc, with that guy ART who has been imploring people to go to the museum....even using the vernacular,
"you going?"

Have you not seen that the museum has been open late on Friday nights, offering music, family events, etc?

Duh, either you are not from around here, or just totally oblivious to the efforts that the DIA has made to expand their constituency. This is crunch time!! NO MORE FEDERAL FUNDING!!

6:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its really a terrible bind that the DIA is in. I personally have a strong distaste for the "dumbing down" tactics, but if this is the only way the DIA can stay afloat, then I'd rather see that then no DIA at all.

To me the larger issue is the major cut to funding. For all of the rhetoric about creating a "knowledge-based" economy in MI and trying to appeal to the "creative class" for the sake of economic development, there seems to be a lot of funding cuts to cultural institutions in the region.

I don't understand it. If business and gov. leaders are serious about stopping the "brain drain" in southeast Michigan, there should probably be more attention (and $$) payed to Universities and museums than new stadiums.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't think the museum is 'dumbing down'. perhaps those who think they're smarter than everyone else are afraid of having to rub elbows with a broader audience..

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look, the DIA has to become a destination -- for its art. That doesn't mean bells and whistles, but its art.
The frickin' place raised $350 million for pete's sake -- that's some pocket change. There are plenty of people who care and support it. If you want to make this about money... The Frank Gehry museum that was destroyed in Biloxi by the hurricane cost $50 million new. How many museums can you build with 350 then!?!
So then it's numbers. The museum wants to say it draws in the masses. Fine. Make it a destination for art. Talk Gil Silverman and Jon Weaver into handing over their collections to the DIA -- without forcing them to build wings in their names. Have such great collectors give something back to the town where they've made their bucks, rather than send it off to Estonia or Israel.
Jack Lane in Dallas and the Whitmans in Seattle have organized their collectors to give back to the city. The Shuey's -- why did their collection go to Cranbrook? Not that that's bad -- it stayed here. But why wasn't the DIA their first choice? And why don't these other collectors who've made their fortunes here do the same?
Silverman could open his Fluxus museum to the public, and it would be a destination to Detroit.
We need to concentrate on promoting and keeping great art here. Chicago advertises its museums first -- when you see their travel ads. And they're promoting their art. Same with NY.

We have the money and the art and the collectors to make Detroit stand side-by-side with these other cities and their museums we're not supposed to compare ourselves to -- because we're not supposed to feel up to them, to their level, because we're Detroit. Screw that old song that keeps the entire city down!

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the majority of the money that the DIA raised came from an aging, "old money", Grosse Pointe, Birmingham and Bloomfield group. These people aren't going to live forever. The board of the DIA, the members, the supporters, are filled with many older people. The DIA has spent a lot of time, money and effort into researching and investigating how to appeal to a younger generation that can support the institution with THEIR money and the money they inherit from their wealthy parents.

As artists on this board, over seas and any other critical source, it is easy for us to criticize the choice to make the museum more accessible. Do we know what its like to come to a museum with no art training, background and knowledge? People have to take their pompous art hats off (ie, you people over the water there) and calm down. Ignore the idiotic dumbing down methods. Look at the art. If you're an "artist" or "art enthusiast", you shouldn't need the tags to interpet and understand anyways right?

The DIA is one of the largest museums of art in the country, and they didn't fall into that title with blind decision and poor planning. I trust their decisions.

10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happen to know a lot about the Amarna period in Egypt: the art, the politics, the culture, the major players. So I was ecstatic when the Tut exhibit made it to the USA again this year. However, it was FULL of "dumbed-down" placards, geographical maps, forensic mummy reconstructions, hands-on extensions, descriptions, dates, and attempts to give viewers a taste of the context. They had the phonetic spelling of Tutankhaten. WTF, I know how to pronounce it! But 90% of the people who went through that exhibit were learning this information for the first time. At points I was pissed b/c the placards didn't give the WHOLE story... but, then, that would take books. And they did have books available that you could take home, and read, so you could learn more... what a phenomonal idea.

But, wait. That's a natural history museum. And we're talking about an ART museum. And an ART museum is completely different, on a pedastle if you will. I mean, really. Listen to yourselves. "they have to cater to the masses now..." NO, they always had a responsibility to the entire population, it's just in the past they didn't acknowledge that responsibility. The DIA is not your personal property, people. It belongs to everyone and the fact is that 99% of people do not come equipped with your knowledge base.

There are a lot of ways the institution can "bridge" this gap if you will. I'm thrilled to see that they're exploring not one tactic, but many, many different strategies. It's amazing that artists, who supposedly thrive on experimentation, fail to respect that this is an art also: the designing, layout, organization, manipulation of the institution to communicate with its audience. What the DIA is doing is beautiful and innovative and it's too bad that so many of you refuse to see it. Especially since you haven't even SEEN it yet! They haven't unveiled this new approach, so your bitching is all on speculative of what you THINK the final experience will be like.

The art is STILL the hook (boil). From what I've seen, the DIA is not trying to lure anyone in to read placards. They are providing placards so that when you come in to see the art you can better understand it. And the great thing is that while I can stop and stand in front of the placard and read it, YOU don't have to. You can walk right past it, skip it all, and the art is still there.

How narrow-minded and insecure ARE you people? Yes. Change is scary. But aren't artists as a rule usually riding the crest of the change, not digging in their heels like spoiled children??

Aquariums are starting to microchip their fish so viewers can hold a hand-held scanner and get the info on the fish that is swimming in front of them instead of matching moving objects to static placards. You know they're not doing it for the marine biologists. They're doing it for the children and the non-specialists. Take your comments and re-examine them from an outside perspective if you are capable of it. I think you will see how silly you all sound.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm all for reinventing the placards. My hesitancy is in the form they may take. I guess I don't really care if the word Baroque is in the text. You can read that in a book if you're really that interested. And actually I'm a little excited about it's removal. What I hate is when a museum approaches its collection as an art-history lesson. Art history is great but what we're looking at is art first and history second.

I'm concerned with the trap of explaining the art. One can't explain a single painting with a book let alone a placard but one can give the impression that one has, even with a single sentence. And if we're talking about an audience that is approaching the art with no previous knowledge it would be very easy to talk about Van Gogh's suicide and accidently infer to the viewer to ignore the paint on the canvas.

I believe it's possible for the museum to avoid coming off as the all-knowing God of art, but it's tricky if not tempting.

People don't go to a museum to be educated. That's what books are for. They go to look. If supplemental information can be useful it all it will be to help people learn to look even harder.

On a side note: Gil Silverman and other private collectors don't owe Detroit or anyone anything. Leave them alone.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I have to say is that I second M. and my speculation sides with Curtis but if people refuse to be open to what the DIA is trying to do, then so be it. But when the crowd goes wild about the risky yet affirmative changes the DIA has made, I'll be right there with my Cadillac.


8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"People don't go to a museum to be educated. That's what books are for. They go to look. If supplemental information can be useful it all it will be to help people learn to look even harder."

Will the new projections and placards help people look harder?

2:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was younger it was never the placards that made me feel like an outsider at the DIA. It was that I didn't know the place existed for me. The museum never seemed to reach out to it's community, especially Detroit, when I was growing up. Later on I realized it did exist for me too. But I had to go looking for it.

I don't really see how paying a company to build point-of-purchase displays is going wipe out the effects of years of (inadvertent?) exclusion. I don't see how simpler language on the placards will do it either.

Maybe the museum could reach out young artists who come from the communities that it's trying to bring in. Maybe they could be more of a presence in schools. Anything that says that they're part of this community, instead trying hard to speak language that the community can understand.

3:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The museum should consider restarting the Ongoing Michigan Artists Program [OMAP]. It was a wonderful series, catalogs were published for each exhibition, and works were acquired by the DIA from Michigan artists. Along with all of the other renovations, this would go a long way in reinserting the museum back into all of the arts communities of the state.

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have a hard time understanding what some of you are whining about. the DIA does reach out to the community; i see countless busloads of children from detroit and the burbs wandering bright-eyed through the museum's galleries every week. i would be surprised if there were a kid in southeast michigan who hasn't been to the museum...

adults are another matter. i mean, how many grown-ups in and around Detroit make it a point to go to the DIA? who wants to go to a museum when there's tiger stadium, ford field and all those casinos downtown...
on that note i also wonder how often do you who are complaining about the changes even go to the museum? how supportive of the DIA were you before all the talk of the placards and the changes, hmm?

i agree with what m. has said... the DIA is transforming itself into a place where people will want to go and spend time, to see art AND to learn about it (and, consequently, themselves). i think it's all very exciting! hold off on the complaints until after you've seen all the changes next november for yourself.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2:13 AM  

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