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10/10/2009

Met Museum Tells Visitors to Please Touch the Paintings

The Onion, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Onion, a tabloid newspaper known for intentionally inaccurate reporting, recently published a satirical article that had the art world chuckling (and made those unfamiliar with The Onion, really confused). In these tough economic times, many art museums are struggling for patrons, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art has devised a new strategy to attract more visitors.
NEW YORK /TheOnion/ — 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.
Prod and scratch the classic paintings? Imagine! The Met's Director, Thomas P. Campbell is quoted as saying this behavior is encouraged:
"Please, bring the whole family and smudge up our paintings as much as you want."
It seems the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. 
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."
 In her work! The story continues...
Art students also took advantage of the Met's relaxed rules, with many photocopying Cézanne canvasses or trying to gain insight into Rembrandt's techniques by tracing over Aristotle With A Bust Of Homer with soft pencils and charcoal.
Museum officials confirmed that many new visitors have given donations to the museum to get special member benefits, such as being allowed to remove works of art from the walls and sit down with them while enjoying food or drinks in the café.
And what do other museums think of the Met's success? They're anxiously experimenting with their own new initiatives.
The Guggenheim Museum now allows customers to swing from its Calder mobiles, while the American Museum of Natural History has begun charging $2 to ride atop its famed brontosaurus skeleton.
So how will the Met follow up on their new found success? Director Campbell explains:
"Next year we're going to let people grab any masterpiece they like and just take a shit on it."
If you think something stinks about this story just remind yourself - it's only The Onion.

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