I am loath to start with introductions.
I find myself unequivocally awkward in making myself known, especially to what seems like a faceless chasm on the Internet. This paired with what may at first appear, due to my being inarticulate, a lack-lustre reason for creating this blog, heightens my anxiety at publishing any content that people can easily access. Understand that putting forth my opinions on such a public forum is something I’ve never done before, and in doing so I instantly opt for dramatics to try and mask my fears.
So, to begin: my name is Isabel. I’m a twenty-something-year-old living in London. I’m undertaking my masters in Museum Studies with a large, all-encompassing hope that I might one day work within a gallery. Doing what specifically? That I’ve yet to decide on – but the hope remains that a post-graduate job might just fling itself at my feet unexpectedly one day without me having to work in retail for the next 40 years of my life to the point where I’ve acquired 6 different PhD’s and still don’t quite have enough experience for an entry-level position at the ticket desk in a gallery.
My reasons for starting this blog are numerous: I have ideas and most of them go unsaid at university because, in an academic environment, a little voice in my head dissuades me from voicing any opinion I have as a means of self-preservation. What happens if I say the wrong thing? Or worse, someone might actually hear what I have to say? The audience in my head is a lot more forgiving and a little less disapproving as opposed to any other sentient human being that might just think differently than I do. Who would want that anyway? At least, that’s what the voice in my head coerces me into accepting every time I weakly tell myself that in class, at that very moment, unlike every other moment in class beforehand where the same opportunity has arisen, I’ll go ahead and participate. It’s a never-ending battle. Much like my love for museums and gallery spaces.
My blog is something on the “extra-curricular” scale; a place where I can discuss what I think matters museum-wise, without having to write in response to an essay question. This blog isn’t just a chaptered analysis of the museum world in general, but a personal take on how I perceive things, and how I’d like to change them. I might not yet know exactly where, in the employment hierarchy of a museum I’d like to be positioned, but my main objective is that irrespective of where I work, I want to enact some noticeable transformation in the greater scheme of things.
I want museums to be inclusive; museums are spaces for debate, they are public and open to all, even though there are certain structures in place that forgo the original intent of museums being accessible to all, and exist solely for the pleasure of an elite minority. There is so much to work on. The task for change is huge, the journey long and arduous, but in the end, it will benefit society as a whole. Museums are cultural institutions to be enjoyed and used by any who are willing – and I use the word willing because making sense of museums and actively visiting these spaces where you’re expected to interact with the objects set before you is a challenge.
The world has been taught that museum-goers are an educated bunch: there are rules set in place, modes of behaviour that need to be regulated, and what we see in the glass cabinets before us are a sanctioned concrete reality. What is reiterated time and time again is that museums exist alone – separated from the world at large, in their physicality and architectural grandeur, museums stand as repositories of cultural and historical significance and require our respect as such. We forget, or in a more honest tone, are ignorant to just how politically charged museums are as national institutions. We choose to ignore the history of museums and their continuous involvement in marginalisation through elitism, because we are taught that in their separation from every day life, museums are untouchable forces that lie outside change.
In a time where the arts sector is suffering from a lack of government funding and public support; where art markets and art fairs are flagrantly waving their garish wealth before us under the guise of “artistic freedom”, how can we sustain museums and their social importance when so many of us are frightened of their cultural authority? In this time of uncertainty, what I find pleasant to see is the slow rumbling of revolutionary thought, where the ground is slowly beginning to tremor with the rise of necessary critique and introspection.
As a whole society, we’re waking to the injustices of the world that so many minority groups before us have, without break, propagated unto deaf ears. These very injustices, even in what might seem like unlikely spaces like museums and galleries, have translated themselves into the cultural institutions that for so long have gone untested. What a time to be alive. What a time to see and enact change. What a time to encourage growth – even if the world seems chaotic and unforgiving at its worst. Museums are capable of healing, of promoting personal and social development; they have so much to offer each and every one of us. Now, we’re beginning to discern these possibilities come into fruition.
And what do I hope that this blog might achieve? I’m not expecting in some miraculous feat, a bored curator for the National Gallery whilst on a hunt for a naïve outlook on the arts sector, might just stumble across this blog. Blown away by my charm and somewhat regurgitated archaic style of writing, this said curator and an obvious figment of my imagination, will offer me a paid job and I’ll live happily ever after in a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of Soho. Nice enough as that might be, this blog won’t do anything but house my thoughts and musings and maybe, in the very least, influence a single person out there enough to challenge how they perceive art as a whole.
Here’s to more posts in the future.