About a week ago I was part of an intense conversation with the director of a major New York City museum (in fact, MoMA) about whether it is good or bad to have broad exposure for our collections on the Internet. (As if, in the end, we have a choice.)
The point of view he was articulating is a familiar one. Namely, that if we put high quality digitized images of our works of art on our websites, the “authentic” work will somehow be devalued, people will visit us on screen, and our galleries will be empty. And things can only get worse, with the integration of the Internet and television, and 3D TV just around the corner.
Variations on a theme….
As TV was going to be the death of movies, as Blockbusters – the “Home Entertainment Center” – was going to be the death of both TV and the movies – and bowling, and just about everything that would oblige us to leave the comfort and safety of our homes.
“Nesting,” “cocooning,” and the inevitable disintegration of our social fabric.
So why do those tens of thousands of people jostle in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, so far from their respective “nests”? For one simple reason: because it is famous. So people want to get close to it, even if they never really see it very well. And how did it get to be so famous? Through reproductions!
And wouldn’t be great if our version of the Mona Lisa at the Walters (above the door, at the left) were that famous?
Well, maybe not quite that famous.