Art, Behind the Scenes, J. Paul Getty Museum, Voices

Getty Voices: What #isamuseum?

This week on Getty Voices, artist Sam Durant talks about his project “What #isamuseum?,” which seeks to encourage dialogue about museums—what they are, who they serve, and our feelings and experiences with them. Join him to discuss museums via a Google Art Talk on Tuesday, June 11, and all week on Twitter and Facebook.

More from Sam all this week:
Getty Voices on Twitter | Getty Voices on Facebook

In 2012 I was invited to participate in the Getty Artists Program. For my project, I knew I wanted to encourage dialogue about how the world we inhabit is constructed. I didn’t yet know how that would look, or what form it would take.

The project—What #isamuseum?—emerged through extended dialogue with members of the Getty Museum’s Education Department, and it was certainly a collaboration. In meetings and correspondence over several months, ideas were vetted and discussed, sharpened and refined, and some discarded until finally we achieved a solution.

Through the web and social media, I am—we are—inviting everyone to think about, and respond however they wish to, five questions about museums. About what a museum is, who it’s for, and what it does in the world. The questions are simply worded, but not simple to answer, as the remarkable diversity of responses (over 50 a day) is illustrating:

  • Is a museum a school?
  • Is a museum political?
  • Is a museum truthful?
  • Is a museum fun?
  • Is a museum for everyone?

People can choose to respond anonymously on isamuseum.org, on Twitter via @isamuseum and the hashtag #isamuseum, and on Facebook, where the Museum has been posting one question every Wednesday. We’ve also been tweeting several of the web responses.

So why this project? I see my artwork as a mode of communication directed toward awareness of the ways in which our world is constructed. Often referencing American history, my work explores the varying relationships between popular culture and fine art. While my work at the Getty fits comfortably into my practice, it is also a deeper engagement with three recent concerns: the inseparability of art and pedagogy; interactions and collaborations with both the museum and its audience; and social media, specifically Twitter, as a new modality of communication.

Although it may not be the mission of the Getty Artists Program, I have indeed been educated by the remarkable Getty staff. My slow pace and reticence to nail down a project, to continue questioning when answers were needed, showed exceptional patience and a confidence that—with a little more time and focus—a really special result could be achieved. It is due to these extraordinary personal efforts of the staff that this project has emerged. For me this collaborative process has been an integral part of the project, and although it will never be seen and can’t be quantified, it is at the core of what I sought to do as an artist in residence at the Getty.

What is a museum to you? Talk to me today through Friday on Getty Voices Twitter and the Getty Voices Facebook. You can also join me and several museum colleagues to discuss museums via a Google Art Talk on Tuesday, June 11.

Connect with more “What #isamuseum?” content from this week’s Getty Voices:

Tagged , , , , , Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Tumblr

    • photo from Tumblr

      thegetty:

      Happy 4th of July!

      Cheeky children peeking out from behind this American flag*. This was taken in New York between 1890 and 1900 in the studio of a photographer named DeYoung.

      How the 4th of July Solved a Cataloguer’s Mini-Mystery

      Months ago our photography cataloguer came across this image acquired under the name De Youngh. This image was made in New York between 1890-1900, but the copyright status was undetermined…until last week.

      Our registrar came across some references to a New York photographer by the name DeYoung, whose materials were frequently stamped with a unique DeYoung’s signature. The signature matched the marking on the back of this photograph.

      Some digging through an online genealogy database confirmed the first name and life dates of a photographer based in New York with the last nameDeYoung. Our records will be updated reflect this change and the image is officially in the public domain, and will be free to download through Open Content in the future.

      *Oops! We said this was a 48-star flag, but that was used from 1912-1959.

      07/06/15

  • Flickr