“In Los Angeles, An Urge to Purge”: LACMA Collecting Trends

NY Times, “In Los Angeles, An Urge to Purge”

Although this article does not touch specifically on our topic of Heritage, I think it does highlight the motivations and underpinnings of what drives museum collecting.  Part of the struggle for museums when it comes to the subject of Heritage is the fact that what we value as great art and artifacts changes like any other taste.  And just as tastes change, museums are constantly positioning themselves, attempting to acquire those prize names (Picasso, Michelangelo, DaVinci, Giacometti) which will put them in the highest class of museums.   In a revealing statement LACMA’s director Michael Govan explains the changes within the museum’s collection stating “This isn’t a study collection, it’s a place to see the best paintings we can show so that visitors will be able to experience paintings as objects of enjoyment and culture. These galleries will also be a place where visitors can learn about the history of taste. As a result we’ve set the bar high.”  This attitude towards the museum’s collection highlights the friction that exists within all large museum collections and the collecting of art as a whole.  As countries fight for the return of what they deem their most prized possessions, to what purpose are they collecting these objects? Are these objects being collected with Govan’s rationale, as objects of enjoyment and culture or are they meant to educate?


About projectpatrimonio

Helena Boyden Lamb, born 1985 in New York, has studied and worked in Politics, Heritage Ethics and Politics, and Opera Singing. Most recently, she is working in Brussels where she started in a European Think Tank and is now the Executive Office of a NGO which facilitates Youth Politics across the EU. She has a Bachelor with Honors from Stanford University, California in Classics: Politics and Heritage and a Masters with Honors from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK in European Identity. She has conducted academic or independent grant-funded research in the UK, France, Italy, Greece, Russia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, and Albania. She was, previously, an archaeologist and an opera singer. Cynthia Querio is a Museum Educator currently living and working in Los Angeles. She is interested in heritage and identity politics and the role of museum education departments in the trajectory of this debate. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue a 9 month graduate internship at the Getty Villa's education department and has continued to work in many museums in Los Angeles including LACMA and the Autry National Center. Her academic background is in the Classics, which was her major at Stanford University and which she continued to pursue with a Masters in the History of Classical Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
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