The Museum Does Not Exist

  • 2020-05-15
  • SSENSE

The museum is a place: a situated and permanent space to experience art. Its origins are as a “civilizing” enterprise, where the working class would be indoctrinated into proper comportment. Before that, there were wunderkammern, collections of art, antiquities, and curios assembled by wealthy Europeans. Today, the art museum provides several functions. Wealthy collectors lend works they own for exhibitions, increasing the value of their holdings while allowing them to avoid taxes. Museums are also semi-public repositories for objects of cultural value and education initiatives. Nothing that costs $25 to enter can really be considered public.