Struggling Museums Get All Touchy Feely
Hoping to boost attendance and broaden its base of supporters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art launched a new initiative this week that allows patrons, for the first time ever, to prod and scratch at the classic paintings in its revered collection.Read the whole piece. I burst out laughing several times reading it...good for the disposition.
"Though it contains more than two million pieces and represents a profound legacy of artistic achievement, most people remain completely indifferent to our museum," Met director Thomas P. Campbell said. "So we decided to try something a little different and give visitors a chance to experience our timeless works of art up close and personal."
Added Campbell, "Please, bring the whole family and smudge up our paintings as much as you want."
According to Campbell, attendance has increased tenfold since the new policy went into effect, with record turnouts causing 45-minute waits for those wishing to clumsily paw at the works of Vincent van Gogh.
"You can't grasp the brilliance of a great painting just by looking at it," said Phil Brehm, 32, who acknowledged that he hadn't set foot inside a museum since a mandatory field trip in high school. "To truly appreciate fine art, you need to be able to run your fingers over its surface and explore its range of textures."
"Or just rub your face all over it, like I do," Brehm added.
Gerard Schmidt, a retired banker who lives near the Met, said he had never much cared for museums until he was given the chance to manhandle one of Monet's Water Lilies.
"At first it just looked like a picture of a bunch of lily pads, but then I started scraping at it with my pocket knife and the whole painting just sort of spoke to me," Schmidt said. "For the first time, I finally understand what Monet was trying to get across in her work."