A Quick Update & A Question

Hello hello!

Please forgive me for lacking in any posts recently. I’ve been busy with Christmas shopping and finishing papers (another semester down, yay!), and work has been a blur with folks coming in to do Christmas shopping in the museum store (thank you for supporting your museum, shoppers!). So, basically, I haven’t had much time to think, let alone write a blog post!

I do want to weigh in on the photography in museums debate, but I feel like that is really deserving of an entire blog post of itself. For now, I’ll say this: I like taking pictures in museums. I really do. I like having neat filters (I have Hipstamatic Oggl on my phone and oh my goodness do I love it), I like having memories of places I love on my phone and on the cloud to go back to, and I like being able to share with my friends and family something interesting that I did. That being said, I’m also pretty tame with my photography when it comes to museum spaces. I don’t like getting too close to art, mostly because I’m paranoid the alarm will go off, but also because I’ve had experiences in the past where as soon as I step too close to a piece, I see museum guards out of my periphery and immediately become uncomfortable. I also don’t take pictures just to have pictures. I don’t walk from one masterpiece to the next, taking a photograph and disregarding the actual art, so I can set it up on a slideshow at home to show all of my friends. No, that’s not me. But when the light is pouring in to the new Art of the Americas wing at the MFA at just the right angle and hits one of the sculptures in the Salon Gallery with a perfect glow? Yeah, that I’ll take a picture of. Sometimes I am photographing in a museum as a reference, or as part of an assignment; that’s when I’m only photographing labels, though, which I don’t do very often.

Anyway, I have a six hour flight to California ahead of me on Monday (whooooo!), which is where I plan on reading most of the articles that have surfaced over the past two weeks regarding photography in museums and memory (if you haven’t read Ed Rodley’s post about it yet, you probably should), so when I have done that, hopefully you’ll see a more fleshed out post about the subject.

I do have a question for folks, though. How do you feel about Christmas trees in museums? Here in Boston, the MFA put up quite a tree in the rotunda, and all the photos I’ve seen of it have it splendidly framed with Sargent’s murals. I know other art museums are also putting up trees as well. And last night it made me think: why are we putting Christmas trees up in our secular spaces? I swear, I’m not trying to be a Scrooge; I love Christmas. But I also have to advocate for those that don’t celebrate the holiday. Are we being culturally rude to them by putting Christmas trees up in our museums? What do you think?

And with that question out of the way, I bid everyone a good weekend. Hope you all have a happy holiday, whatever you celebrate, and a festive New Year!

A Quick Update & A Question

2 thoughts on “A Quick Update & A Question

  1. Sam Scott says:

    Well, it’s another dimension of the public Christmas tree debate with arguments on both sides. Fundamentally, I think as long as an institution has a thoughtful and honest explanation it can provide those who question or object for why Christmas decorations are (or aren’t) present, then they have done due diligence. It’s an active cultural debate and it should take place in the halls of museums as much as elsewhere.


    1. I agree! Honestly the thought just came to me on the bus the other day as I was looking at Instagram photos from different museums I follow, and noticed that quite a few have Christmas trees or other decorations around. I typically think of museums as nondenominational, sometimes secular spaces, and the thought of something like a Christmas tree in one was thought-provoking to me.

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