Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Judith H. Dobrzynski on the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum sent me an email a while back that boggles the mind. It was an invitation to buy tickets to the Apr. 29 "After Hours" event, running from 8 p.m. to midnight. The picture looks, to me, more like a rave than anything to do with art, but that's not the topic I'm taking up here. It's not even the high ticket price of $18.

What's most bothersome about this invitation is the statement about members: "Members get in free and have access to VIP area."

You can see that line for yourself in the picture at left.

"A VIP area"? At a public museum, an arm of the Smithsonian Institution?

For years, museum officials have been droning on about the need to dispel the notion that art museums are elitist. To me, it's more of a museum image problem than anything real: some people think that they have to dress up, have a college diploma, or have other so-called elite attributes to feel welcome. Mostly, that's pure fantasy -- or an excuse.

And now, the Hirshhorn -- no doubt in an effort to raise money (the lowest level of membership costs $100 to $249 a year ) -- is creating a VIP lounge within an already questionable activity?
Read the whole piece (and see the image) at Real Clear Arts here.