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What are the purposes of art museums and galleries - Essay Example

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Many and varied are the views about the purpose of Art galleries and museums. Authors have posited, postulated and presented arguments in support of their diverse views on the end art galleries and museums serve…
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What are the purposes of art museums and galleries
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Download file to see previous pages But could these arguments stand the test of critical intellectual and empirical analysis Could they be substantiated incontestably with living evidence, so that these views on the purpose of the institutions come across as a cogent piece of intellectual submission This paper will critically examine a number of arguments in support of the views, for logic of presentation, relevance of structural methodology and cogency of content.

Khalil Gibran, a Lebanese artist & poet in US, once said 'To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to'. This statement, with its allusion to 'aspiration', offers a significant point of departure for this exposition. Aspiration is evidenced in current attempts, in current efforts towards the realisation of a purpose. Therefore, the appreciation of the purposes of art museums and galleries lies in the discovery of the aspiration of those who set them up and conscientiously maintain them.

This simple deduction will be used as a fundamental yardstick for estimating the validity of the various arguments. The arguments of the chosen authors will be represented with excerpts from their works, which capture the long and short of their arguments and submissions. These excerpts will be enlarged upon very briefly and then examined for validity.

The term 'museum' dates back to the Greek origin of the institution as the abode of the muses, a place of learning and inspiration. It is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as: 'A building, place, or institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition, and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical, or artistic value', (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, 2000).

In their A Sense of Place, a work of advocacy, Peter Davies and Tony Knipe (1984) subscribe to an opinion embodied in this excerpt : ' Lets not each beauty everywhere be spied, When half the skill is decently to hide, He gains all points who pleasingly confounds, surprises, varies and conceals the bounds'

The advice "not to spy each beauty everywhere, 'when half the skill is decently to hide'" suggests that easily appreciated objects of artistic beauty do not hold as much attraction as those whose artistry is 'decently' hidden, that is, complex. Thus, art galleries, which generally hold attractions for frequenters, contain artistic collections whose intents and purposes need closer (not to be 'spied') examination and special explanations, for their full understanding and appreciation.
Consequently, close examination of artistic works of art for their enjoyments and appreciation, is presented by these authors as the purpose for which art galleries and museums are set up. The complicated artistry of the collections is to challenge- 'pleasingly' confound- the visitors, stimulate their imagination and increase their appreciation of beauty.

The validity of this submission is, however, yet to be seen, for no empirical evidence lies in this excerpt.
From the work of another pair of authors on the origins of museums, we find this excerpt: 'The opening of the New World and the opening up of contacts with Africa, South-East Asia and the Far East revolutionized the way which people saw the world and their own place in it' (Oliver Impey and Arthur MacGregor, Origins of Museums (1985), p.2).
Further reading of this work reveals that the stir created by the opening up of Africa, South-East Asia and the Far East to the New World gave birth to the very beginnings of museums as we know them. Interestingly, many of them were filled with ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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