Art Museums Destoy Art

Recently on vacation I visited the Art Institute of Chicago.  As somebody who has a slight artistic background, my hopes were high.  However, by the time I left, my hopes had been dashed to pieces, and I was disappointed and upset.  And in my heart of hearts, I've decided that if I never go back to another art museum for the rest of my life, I will ok with that.  Thanks Art Institute of Chicago!

Why is that?

Because art museums tend to destroy "art."

How do they do that you might ask? Don't art museums exist to showcase art and preserve it for future generations to enjoy?

In theory they do, but in actuality, they kill it. And in killing their subject matter, art museums with their bland walls and boxy maze like layouts, remind me more of a funeral parlor than a place that celebrates the creative genius of mankind.

What many museums fail to grasp is that art is highly "contextual."  And by contextual I don't just mean the boring typical academic classifications of things that sound like "European Impressionism from the 19th Century."

Rather, art is like when somebody tells a good joke, then later, when you wish to share a good laugh with somebody else, you attempt to retell the joke only to have it fall flat, for which you awkwardly apologize by saying, "I guess you just had to be there."  There are some jokes you just have to be there to experience in order for them to be funny.   Otherwise, you will simply kill the joke in your clumsy attempt to retell it.

Art is like a good joke that you get.  Art museums are often like your feeble attempts to retell that joke.

Art is full of meaning, and that meaning is often what it means in a certain time and place, and its expression is only rightly understood and felt then and there.  When taken out of its context, put in a frame, thrown up on a wall, and surrounded by an assortment of other random paintings in a museum, art often ceases to be art.  It's the failed joke.

Of course there would be those who say they understand the context. They can explain the art like they can explain a joke. But like a joke, if somebody needs to explain the joke, it's simply no longer funny.

If art museums are to continue to exist, which they undoubtedly will as they are playthings of "the one percent," they need to be updated in such a way that they can create an interactive world in which you can be plunged into the world of the artist, so that you are no longer just an individual observing a piece of art, but that you become part of the artists' audience, and the people he was painting for.

My suggestion to places like the Art Institute of Chicago would be to take a lesson from the highly fun, highly interactive, and highly immersive experience of the Science and Industry Museum just down the street in Chicago.  Figure out a way to guide patrons like me into the mind of the artist, so we can see what they saw and felt.  Create a world in which we get the joke.