Marabou Reads The Art Newspaper on “The Met’s Antiquated Views of Antiquities”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is looking for a new permanent curator-in-charge of their Greek and Roman department. What a great opportunity to bring in different, fresh (dare Marabou hope for controversial and progressive?) perspectives on the glorified and popular Greek and Roman objects at the museum.

In the article “The Met’s antiquated views on antiquities need updating” for The Art Newspaper, Elizabeth Marlowe makes great suggestions for what the next curator should do and focus on. Marabou has pulled two quotes from the article that particularly resonated.

In response to the belief that museums should continue to grow their collections of antiquities, Marlowe writes:

“Rather than spending millions on the splashiest big-ticket item on the market, the Met would better serve the public by dusting off some of the thousands of relatively humble objects in its basements, where around 80% of the collection is kept. Silver drinking cups and precious marble coffins may tell us what life was like for the ancient 1%, but ceramic household items and limestone funerary reliefs better illuminate how ordinary Greeks and Romans lived.”

Marlowe compares the Met’s display practices to other museums that are actively working to share a more holistic understanding of objects, from subject matter to acquisition,

“By contrast, the Met’s minimalist labels offer basic descriptions, biographical facts about the subject or clichés about lost Greek originals. There is rarely any discussion of how the objects were found, how they came to the museum or how opinions about them have changed over time—let alone any whiff of controversy or debate.

This is a loss, as these are often the most revealing stories these objects can tell.”

Marabou suggests taking the time to read Marlowe’s entire article. Her argument is relevant to the Met’s Greek and Roman Department, but also applies to the greater museum.

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