Vox pop

According to the Financial Times, museums and galleries like the Guggenheim and Tate Modern are now ‘a low rent branch of the entertainment industry’, where ‘the contents are almost irrelevant to the visitor experience’. What’s your view?

‘The FT should acknowledge that entertainment and education need not be mutually exclusive. My worry is the success rollercoaster ridden by curatorial high priests running such institutions encourages them to ordain artists that carry suitable PR and media credentials, rather than discreet experimentalists. Where is the “interactive new media art” at Tate Modern?’

Peter Higgins, Director, Land Design Studio

‘As André Breton wrote, “The wardrobe is filled with linen. There are even moonbeams which I can unfold”. The contents are why we go to a gallery or museum – the building itself is sometimes exciting, but I disagree with the quotation, as we all find moonbeams somewhere.’

Jasper Jacob, Director, Jasper Jacob Associates

‘The vacuum left by the abandonment of traditional religious beliefs and hierarchical orthodoxies has sucked in a number of weird prospective sources of spiritual balm. I am not unhappy that large numbers of people flock to calm, clean modern spaces to find solace in contemplating modern art – whatever that may be. After all, its got to be better than worshipping at the soap-celebrity alter of Posh and Kylie Minogue.’

James Wells, Partner, Wells Mackereth

‘It’s part of another mean-spirited article bemoaning all post-19th century museological development. The reality is that cultural tourism (always present, but highly exclusive) is now available to many. A museum or gallery visit is no longer a pilgrimage for the chosen few, but a regular part of a broad and generous fusion of 21st century cultural activity. The role museums might play in all our futures is still being redefined, but collections/content will never lose their importance – both, however, need to be substantial, relevant and accessible in their presentation and interpretation.’

Tim Molloy, Director, Science Museum

‘If the criticism levelled has a ring of truth about it, there is a flip side: millions of people who’d never before have visited an art gallery now see such pursuits as leisure options. Surely it’s good for the wider visual arts industry. Also, the debate generated by such venues demonstrates their significance in today’s culture.’

Louise Taylor, Director, Crafts Council

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