When I say that something is a museum piece, it often carries the connotation that it is something that no longer has relevance to a living culture, and that it can only be found behind glass panels in a museum. This got me to thinking… what if museums thought of themselves as preserving things that are akin to endangered species, that would disappear without a specific effort to preserve them, and they made it part of their mission to “release them back into the wild,” to make them part of a living culture again, to try to preserve the environments that created them? Why keep art and cultural artifacts dead behind glass walls? Why not infuse our culture with old memes every now and then, after they’ve been forgotten? Clearly, this would not be appropriate for some museums, such as the Holocaust museum, but surely this would produce good results for many art, historical, and cultural museums. Is this already being done by anyone? If so, to what degree?
UPDATE: In a slightly related train of thought, while googling “museum piece”, I came upon this poem… it’s probably not that profound, but I found it interesting:
==Richard Wilbur – Museum Piece==
The good gray guardians of art
Patrol the halls on spongy shoes,
Impartially protective, though
Perhaps suspicious of Toulouse.
Here dozes one against the wall,
Disposed upon a funeral chair.
A Degas dancer pirouettes
Upon the parting of his hair.
See how she spins! The grace is there,
But strain as well is plain to see.
Degas loved the two together:
Beauty joined to energy.
Edgar Degas purchased once
A fine El Greco, which he kept
Against the wall beside his bed
To hang his pants on while he slept.