What is a museum? It can be many things, depending on who you ask—and who does the asking. Artist Sam Durant is asking all of us this question for his newly launched project What #isamuseum?
The project is part of the Getty Artists Program, in which the Museum’s Education Department invites an artist to create and implement a project each year. Sam’s work takes on social, political, and cultural issues, engaging subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement, Southern rock music, and modernism. And now, museums and museum visitors.
Visitors to the Getty Center will see Sam’s questions through July in unexpected places like walls, floors, tram windows, and Cafe napkins (yes, you can even clean the crumbs off your face with questions). The multi-colored squares give the Center a stylish splash of color for summer, in sly contrast to the thought-provoking questions they contain. Arrows point toward the Museum Entrance Hall, where you can add responses at an iPad station and see others’ loop on a monitor.
A response to Sam’s questions can be anything: an answer, another question, a random thought, or nothing at all. The simple presence of questions changes the experience of visiting the museum; it adds a question mark. “I am seeking to open up the visitor’s experience,” as Sam puts it, “to larger and ongoing inquiry about the function of culture in their lives.”
So, let’s begin the inquiry: What #isamuseum to you?