Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What are Museums For?

This is just a brilliant essay really. That's probably why it won the Charles Douglas-Home Memorial Trust Award.

I love this paragraph, which gets at the death of culture in an era that aims at a sort of marketable multiculture... Feel free to replace the word "museum" with "university"!

"What I realise now, though, is that the problem isn’t the many different answers the museums industry is finding to answer this question. The problem is the question itself. To ask it is already to presuppose that a museum can only justify its existence in some form of utilitarian value; it implies that culture can be measured; that a museum can be submitted to cost benefit analysis; that it ought to be micromanaged by the state if, according to the political precepts of the moment, it is found wanting. But museums are above all this nonsense. At least they should be."

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