Why do you go to art museums?

@spudart Thanks! You might like this interview with our director of design, James Goggin. http://ow.ly/axjCg

The Museum of Contemporary Art’s twitter account pointed me in the direction of a “Time Out Chicago” article about their new identity, “We are here at the Museum of Contemporary Art.” The commenting is closed on the article, so I’m posting my response below.

I’m looking forward to the artist working spaces in the 12×12 gallery. This will bring me back to the museum every week to see what each artist is doing in the space. I especially like the idea of making pins from salvaged material from the MCA. I’d like to see what materials they will be offering.

As for the start of the article, it states, “It takes a lot to make people raise their eyebrows in a contemporary art museum,” says James Goggin, the Museum of Contemporary Art‚Äôs director of design, print and digital media. In the past few years I’ve found that my primary objective for visiting art museums isn’t to find eyebrows-raising experiences. I go to art museums for a garden experience. It’s fulfilling, relaxing.

While I do enjoy artwork that shocks me out of my place, we shouldn’t see that as the only purpose of the museum. If I go to the museum expecting to be shocked, eventually you won’t be shocked anymore. It’s sorta like a dog chasing its tail.

I think one of the reasons museums like shocking work, because it instigates thought, discussion, and media. The curiosity factor of “the museum has WHAT on display?” helps to bring visitors to the museum–in theory. However, I can’t even recall the last time my friends or regular people ever used that as excuse to visit a museum.

I would say the great majority of the public are like me, in that they enjoy going to the museum simply because they enjoy the works on display. Therefore, it is like going to a garden. Sometimes there may be a surprise at a garden. SNAKE! But I don’t visit gardens for the snakes, I visit them for the plants and flowers.

Why do you go to art museums?

UPDATE: I just realized the Time Out Chicago was written in 2011. I thought this was 2012. Oops.

The MCA has photos posted from this four-week exhibit, We Are Here: Art & Design Out of Context, Jul 5–31, 2011.

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12 years ago

I go to art museums for a great mental exercise. It’s a really interesting experience. It always appears so calm. People are walking slowly. They talk quietly (unless you’re a Maldre). The rooms (minus the art) are neutralized in their empty whiteness. But in reality your brain is relentlessly being bombarded by incredibly stimulating art.

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