Museums, particularly in the cultural sector, are institutions of preservation.
By and large their mission is not to lead culture but to preserve, understand,
and educate about it. Will these and other bedrock functions be upgraded
for the Net age--what Steven Johnson calls the "interface culture"--or
are museums in danger of losing their cultural franchise to other more
innovative, useful, or engaging enterprises, whether they be virtual
organizations or entertainment conglomerates?
This paper will look at examples of working with artists on the
Web and curating "Web art" to see how these map to traditional notions
of museum functions and whether they suggest new strategies for dealing
in more innovative, useful, and engaging ways with traditional works
of art in a Net environment. Specifically, I will discuss my experience
curating the Walker Art Center's virtual "Gallery
9"; our attempts to do more than present information about the
work of artists such as Joseph
Luyten, and Diana
Thater; and experiments in the presentation of our permanent collection
( - January 98). I will also present examples of practices at other
institutions--virtual or otherwise--that I think are innovative, useful,
or engaging efforts to present web art and art on the web.
If the goal is to compete effectively in the radically shifting
cultural environment without losing the soul of the museum, the question
remains how to do so. I believe that contemporary artists and "interfacers"
(Johnson) have much to teach even museums about relevant possibilities
of a new medium in a changing society.
Last modified: April 17, 1998. This file can be
found below http://www.archimuse.com/mw98/
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