Elitism reigns in American art museums


Art museums are a perfect environment for engaging in artistic culture, serving both as vessel of knowledge and curiosity for young children and an opportunity to admire the art. But on many occasions, a debate on the destination of museums arises.

This recurring debatetinted from the underlying art market constraint, reinforces an American museum culture nestled in elitism, which in turn bewilders those who are labeled as intellectually inferior, unable to adequately meet their need to engage in art and expose their children to the so- saying “high culture”.

Attempting to hijack art and culture for the benefit of an elite is maintain low attitude affinityor sense of belonging, to perceived cultural institutions among lower-class individuals and, ultimately, to allow upper-class Americans to play the modest role of cultural arbiter.

Museum entrance feesthat can interval from nearly free to $29, play a primary role in this income-based divide, because what may be a flippant purchase for some is a significant erosion of disposable income for others. Some museums have tried to remedy this without addressing the base price of their tickets by offering awkward niche sheds and unique free days.

“Really, a museum is always a pretty elite place,” said ASU professor Corine Schleif. Art school who specializes in art history. “And we try to camouflage the elitism of museums by having public programs.”

When art museums are advertised as spaces for culturally refined people, the idea that “people who feel comfortable in these spaces are there because they naturally belong to a certain level of society” is attached to them, Schleif said. She added that this ignores the fact that family money may have given them additional opportunities.

Crucial in any attempt to curb stealth elitism in museum culture, which bears traces of nepotism, is expanding access to these arts institutions, Schleif said, primarily through transparent assessment of fees. admission.

“With most museums, you have to pay to get in,” said Elli Coupe, a museum studies major and undergraduate Art History Association officer. “And that immediately becomes a barrier for low-income families who just can’t afford it. The middle class are allowed in just because they have free time to come in.”

What’s on display in museums also plays a role in attitude affinity levels, Coupe said. the homogeneity of dominant whites of museum collections allows limited representation of ethnically marginalized communities in art exhibitions, fostering a sense of unwelcome within these institutions.

“If you’re told you shouldn’t be in museums just because of the artwork you see, you don’t want to go there,” Coupe said. “And so on, it’s usually the white men who make the decisions about what’s shown.”

Recent Data compiled by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in partnership with the Association of Art Museum Directors, the American Alliance of Museums and Ithaka S+R, a survey of various American art institutions found that while diversity is emerging at a snail’s pace, the world of art museums continues to be dominated by white men.

According to the findings, 84% of curators and 88% of people in management or museum management positions were white in 2018, with the number of black curators amounting to an abysmal 4%.

“As we hear all the time in the media, are you going to pay for your medicine, or your electricity, or your food? Schleif said. “You’re definitely not going to pay that money to go to a museum twice” or use your disposable income to buy museum tickets before your basic needs are met.

Another set of practices that solidifies the upper echelon’s pseudo-monopoly on art museums is the opening of private receptions and dinners. These functions “are not left to chance” and put networkers already entrenched in the false meritocracy in the right place at the right time to cement their position in the museum world, she said.

Schleif said the fact that the price of admissions has risen over such a long period, especially relative to the percentage of people’s incomes, “makes institutions much more elite.”

“What it also means is that public money goes into many of our cultural institutions… (and) the wealthy elite also benefits from that public money, which is poured in from the taxpayers down below,” said Schleif.

Contact the reporter at stellefs@asu.edu and follow @samtellefson on Twitter.

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