Tuesday 17 September 2013

Self-destruction at the Museums Association

Picture: Tate
The Museums Association seems never to have liked museums very much. It always wants them to be something else, something more entertaining and more audience-focused (whatever that means) and more in tune with fashionable nostrums about inclusion and access. Maurice Davies, who is always wrong, summed it up in the title of a recent blog post, 'Stupid Curators'. He thinks the public knows best, except when the public disagrees with him

Some curators took umbrage at their professional association calling them 'stupid' (who'd have thought it?). Their balanced and reasonable comments make an excellent case for the importance of curators. Maurice Davies tried to defend himself with a follow-up post, with a revealing discussion in the comments. He says that he was brought up provocative and provacative he will remain (all to the good, but it rather misses the point that people objected to the substance rather than the style). But when another contributor responded in similarly robust style, Davies accused him of hysteria and libel. 

The defensiveness is telling. The Museums Association's 'Museums Change Lives' agenda reflects ideas that are now less fashionable in government circles. They claim to speak for the people, but the people don't want the things the Museums Association wants for them. And the curatorial profession is rightly standing up for itself against this daft onslaught. 

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