Marabou shares Michelle Millar Fisher‘s reflection (posted on Instagram) on what museums can do during closures caused by COVID-19. Michelle is a curator and an architecture and design historian who currently works as the Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She also is a founding member of Art + Museum Transparency (you can follow them on Twitter), which initiated and published the open-source spreadsheet that lists the salaries and benefits provided to workers across the art and museum sectors.
In her reflection, Michelle addresses the mad rush of museums’ attempts to make themselves viable in the digital age, from upping their social media game to sending out newsletters with options to engage with the museum and its collections from afar. Michelle suggests that museums take a step back and think about engagement and support they can offer closer to home. Marabou thinks Michelle’s suggestion is not just something for the time of COVID-19, but something that museums should continue when we are all allowed to gather together in public and museums reopen.
Instead of rushing to put content online, what if museums thought analogue right now?
Now one is going to forget they exist if they don’t move completely virtual.
Indeed, they can never compete online w Netflix anyway–not even if they already have excellent digital teams in place.
Museums are civic hubs that are meant to serve community. Right now, community needs phone calls to elderly people living alone to make sure they’re OK. Community needs childcare for people on the front lines in grocery stores and hospitals. Community needs meals to those who are jobless. That’s what I want to see museums focusing on. No more rushing to colonize the online space. Museums have already colonized enough.
Make museums analogue. Make them empathetic.
The root of “curator” is “to care for” and right now we need to train all that care on people. Not objects. Not online.