Seeing what we own

By | Category: Travel rumblings
The V&A ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The V&A ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Last week, the Art Fund announced that the Victoria & Albert Museum in London had won its Museum of the Year award and the £100,000 prize.

It triumphed over the Arnolfini in Bristol, the Bethlem Museum of the Mind, (also in London) Jupiter Artland in Scotland and the York Art gallery. Rather than the award, what interested me most were the comments of Martin Roth, the director of the V&A. He said that he would use the money to re-establish a post that had disappeared in the last round of cutbacks. This post would be to support and collaborate with museums and galleries across the country.

Compare this with the comments of Nicholas Serota from the Tate, who is quoted in the June issue of The Art Newspaper that the Tate had been asked to establish galleries in other parts of the UK such as Bristol, Edinburgh and Norwich but had declined. The reason? “A gallery should be fundamentally rooted in its community.” He was also quoted, however, as saying that he favours partnerships with existing museums.

I hope he means that he is similarly of the mind of Martin Roth that there will be collaboration with museums and galleries elsewhere.

Most of what sits in our museums and their vaults is ours- the publics. But we don’t see it and curators have a habit of only displaying what they think we should or want to see We cannot make our minds up because we can’t see them. That isn’t the fault of museums and the like because they don’t have the space and have to be selective. The National Gallery gets around this by placing images that it holds online for anyone with access to a computer to see.

That’s still not like seeing it in the flesh so any system that allows for travelling exhibitions or loans so that our heritage holdings can be seen more widely is to be welcomed. Martin Roth is in favour it seems but is Nicholas Serota?

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