Museum Avenue

A blog about life in the museum world.

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Museum’s Audio Guide Informs Visitors How Much More They Getting Out Of Experience Than Others

Peabody's Lament

Actually From The Onion

Vol 50 Issue 44.

CHICAGO—In addition to providing background and analysis of the artwork on display, the audio guide for the Surrealists exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago reminded visitors this week how much richer of an experience they were receiving than was everyone else, sources confirmed. “Dali was heavily influenced by Freud’s The Interpretation Of Dreams and often wrote down his dreams in a notebook, a fact that those passing through this exhibit without an audio guide are woefully unaware of,” the recording reportedly said before inviting listeners to turn their attention to a nearby Marcel Duchamp work whose nuances would “only truly be understood” by those listening to the prerecorded narration. “And if you look to your left, you will notice a number of attendees who are appreciating Yves Tanguy’s The Rapidity Of Sleep far less than you are…

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Chicago election delays Obama library decision

We’ll have to wait another month before we find out about the Obama Library.


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will hold off on announcing the location for his future library until after Chicago’s runoff election for mayor.

That’s according to two people familiar with the decision who weren’t authorized to discuss the library and spoke on condition of anonymity. They said Obama wants to avoid politicizing his legacy project or creating the appearance of giving Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel an unfair advantage.

Last year, the Barack Obama Foundation said the Obamas would announce the winner by the end of March. But the announcement is no longer expected until after the April 7 runoff.

Emanuel is Obama’s former chief of staff and is up for re-election. He failed to win a majority in last month’s vote. Emanuel faces Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia in the runoff.


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How To View Critics Telling You How to View Art in a Museum

Thinking about Museums

The blind fingerless art critic by Flickr user Shareheads CC-BY 2.0 The blind fingerless art critic
by Flickr user Shareheads
CC-BY 2.0

I have a confession to make: art critics baffle me. Especially when they venture to make grand pronouncements about the right way to go about experiencing art in museums. So when I saw the title of Philip Kennicott’s piece in the Washington Post, titled “How to view art: Be dead serious about it, but don’t expect too much” I will confess that I died a little bit inside. “Sigh. Another ‘you people are doing it all wrong’ piece.” Just what the world needs, another art critic holding forth on the sad state of museums and museumgoing. But, though there is plenty of sneering, there’s also a lot worthy of discussion. And debate. Kennicott’s post didn’t stand alone too long before Jillian Steinhauer posted a reply at Hyperallergic, and Jen Olencziak a rebuttal at Huffington Post. So, let’s take a…

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The Museum Advertising Model

Peabody's Lament

Mad Museums? Yes. We are definitely this cool

There are few things in this world as simple and pure as museum advertising. The standard museum ad quickly gets to the heart of what a museum has to offer. The basic outline of many such ads looks like this:

Come to the museum for our self-guided or daily guided tours, experience one of our special events, and spend time with our art, history, and/or science.

This exciting formula touches people viscerally by showcasing the wonderful experiences the museum has created. It never fails to attract a visitor or two (sometimes, though rarely, even three or four).

To help demonstrate how effective the whole thing is, we applied this age-old advertising strategy to other social venues. Here is what we got:

Movie Theaters – Come down to view our selection of movies (all with sound!). We also have a concession stand, seats…

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My Thoughts on Hamilton County Commissioners’ Decision

Now that I’ve had time to think about the Hamilton County Commissioners’ decision, and I have read this morning’s article from the Enquirer “5 Reasons Music Hall Got Dropped from Tax Levy,” and I have this to say (Opinion expressed here represent my own thoughts and not those of my employer):

News flash: Neither Union Terminal or Music Hall is a stadium. While I know this is not breaking news, it clearly needs to be stated. I am disappointed that the stadium woes continues to be the scapegoat that continues to hold all Hamilton County, and all of Southwest Ohio back. I am disappointed that the stadium finance problems of yesteryear have decided tomorrow’s cultural facilities outcomes. The commissioners should exercise real leadership and quit with the excuses. That is all the stadium argument is; an excuse to make the “easy wrong” as Bob McDonald put it. I do not get to blame people from 10 or 15 years ago for not performing in my job today, right here, right now.

It is a shame that the county and the city cannot work together. I spent years in the Indianapolis area and am used to the UniGov system of government. In 1970, Indianapolis and Marion County consolidated government which made government more efficient with many shared services. It was not an overnight fix, for instance a consolidated Indianapolis Metropolital Police Department which consolidated Indianapolis City officers and Marion County officers did not happen until 2005, and I still think consolidated Fire services has been a bigger struggle still. Overall coordination of the entirety of Marion County, Indiana has been a (relatively) peaceful and efficient process. There are some areas in Marion County that are not part of Indianapolis government, but still receive county benefits. The bickering between city and county is not something I’m familiar with (Bickering between City/County and State, however is MUCH different). Hamilton County could benefit from such a system. I know there are a billion little villages, towns, townships, cities and more inside the confines of Hamilton County, Ohio, but at some point, “leaders” need to consider what they are sacrificing to bloat their own egos. Quit fighting amongst each other because as John F. Kennedy once said, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Unfortunately, the tide is out in Hamilton County.

I am fortunate to have shaken Bob McDonald’s hand. That is a moment that I will never forget. I was in my yellow Save Our Icons t-shirt, holding a yellow “Speak for Us” sign and of course sporting my yellow Icons hard hat. Bob McDonald, Cultural Task Force chair, former CEO of Procter and Gamble, and now 8th Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shook my hand on his way out and thanked me for my support. He thanked me! If anything, I thank him for his tireless support and model leadership. I only wish I could be half the leader that he is. Bob McDonald called into the Commissioners’ meeting yesterday from Washington because Veterans Affairs, and asked Commissioners “to make the hard right, not to make the easy wrong.” Regardless of the outcome of yesterday’s vote, his words will stay with me forever, and he has inspired me to be a better leader.