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How the new Whitney Museum helps us figure out what a museum means

I've always loved being in museums. Back in college, I thought I'd like to work in them. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to intern in a few before I left graduate school. For the advertising business. Also a mistake, but I've never regretted leaving the museum world behind. 

Museums are inextricably linked with commerce in art. Curators compete to acquire major works from private collectors who may donate or share the works they've acquired. The job performance of curators is often judged not by the quality of the shows but by their ability to cultivate a strong relationship with independent collectors. 

Tq150510wmArt critic Jerry Saltz is concerned about the relationship between museums, art dealers and artists. He sees museums dabbling not only in the art market, but also in the marketing of art, in the creation of a demand for an artist's work. I agree with him that museums cross the line when they help an artist and dealer increase the value of the artwork or performance. In effect, they are driving up their own expenses. 

He sees the new Whitney sidestepping the temptation by focusing on how art evolves instead of trying to capture highly valued pieces of the art world. Our museums don't have to own major masterpieces to show us what art means. 

Vulture / New York: The New New Museum, 2015-Apr-19 by Jerry Saltz

De Salvo said, “The Whitney is not a building. It’s an idea.” The idea is actually a question, and the question is “What is American art?”

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