Sunday, September 30, 2007

Food for thought (and discussion!)

While prepping for the museum studies graduate seminar I begin teaching tomorrow at Progressive Ketchup Factory University*, I came across this paragraph written by Duncan F. Cameron in 1971. It's from an essay on whether museums should be temples or forums, but it certainly can be discussed outside the context of the essay itself. I'm interested in your thoughts on it.

We are quite prepared to debate the virtues or evils of new birthcontrol methods, the fluoridation of water, test-tube babies, or the exploration of space, but it never occurs to us to put in jail the research scientists who created the very thing that we are prepared to argue about and which we oppose. In the arts and humanities this is not the case. The artist or scholar who criticizes our society and offends our sensitivities or our values is, in effect, regarded as an enemy of society even before we have allowed time for his work or his statements to be judged and considered.**

*You may find the name PKFU puzzling, but it actually makes sense if you know the place, and hey, it makes me laugh.

**Duncan F. Cameron, "The Museum, a Temple or the Forum." Curator: The Museum Journal 1971 and UNESCO's Journal of World History 1972. Rpt. in Gail Anderson, ed. Reinventing the Museum: Historical and Conemporary Perspectives on the Paradigm Shift. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2004. p. 69.

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