Tag Archive: museum

The decision to ban sketching at the V&A’s ‘Undressed: a brief history of underwear’ exhibition is sheer pantaloonacy. It might even be more provocative than some of the garments on display.

The museum has justified the ban partly by suggesting that sketchers create unnecessary congestion, apparently upsetting the metronomic pace the V&A has set for the masses. But, surely, if you’re going to make a point of exposing something which would otherwise be private, intimate, and ever so slightly naughty, it seems contrary to enforce an all too brief encounter.

But what really gets my knickers in a twist is that the V&A’s sign, ‘No photography or sketching’, tars photos and drawings with the same brush. Both, of course, can be forms of art, but in a museum context, one feels more obtrusive than the other.  Aside from the clicks and flashes of cameras, there is always the temptation to hide behind a lens, to capture something passively without really engaging with it. But to draw something, you have to open your eyes. Sketches are sexy. They leave something to the imagination, showing more and less at the same time. A sketch is never an exact copy, but an interpretation.

By banning people from sketching, the V&A risks trivialising its own exhibition. Of course, you might argue that an exhibition whose highlights include photos of a scantily clad David Beckham for an H&M campaign or Kate Moss’ famously see-through slip dress might not purport to be anything but trivial. But, even if this is true (and I’m not convinced that it is), why shouldn’t it be celebrated, or even transformed, by art? Andy Warhol found his inspiration in a tin of Campbell’s tomato soup. Who’s to stop someone finding theirs in Jaeger woollen underwear or in the pants of Queen Victoria’s mother? In fact, Warhol was once so enamoured by Jockey briefs that he used a pair as a canvas for one of his dollar-sign paintings. Whether it heralds the everyday, the saucy, or the soupy, art’s very foundations lie in a freedom of interpretation which would be dangerous to jeopardise.

The museum was quick to point out that the ban would only apply to certain temporary exhibitions, and that sketching in the permanent collections was still welcomed. But could the move be suggestive of a wider hostility towards drawing in art galleries? While at the ‘Rembrandt: the late works’ exhibition at the National Gallery last year, I was told to stop sketching because I was being inconsiderate towards the other visitors. I was surprised; I’ve sketched in a lot of galleries and people are generally more interested than annoyed. Personally, I love having a peek at other people’s sketches; in the case of Rembrandt’s self-portraits, they allow you to see what others make of Rembrandt as well as what the artist made of himself. The creation of multiple dialogues can only be a good thing, and in suppressing them, galleries are at risk of alienating the very people they should be encouraging. As one disgruntled art-lover tweeted in response to the V&A ban, “No memorising anything you see. Approved memories can be purchased in the gift shop”.

Source: Put your pens away: the V&A bans sketching | Varsity Online

A fire  damaged a museum of natural history in the Indian capital that had scores of exhibits of plants and animals, among them a 160-million-year-old dinosaur fossil.

More than a hundred firemen battled for about three hours to douse the flames that broke out early on Tuesday on the top floor of the National Museum of Natural History.

“The damage is huge,” said Rajesh Panwar, deputy chief of the Delhi Fire Service, adding that some part of the museum was being renovated and that its fire fighting system was out of operation.

“If the fire provisions were working, the fire could have been controlled well in time,” he added.

Among the museum specimens was a 160-million-year-old dinosaur bone, the Times of India newspaper reported.

The extent of the damage would only be known once fire officials hand back the building to the department that manages the museum, said federal Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, who ordered a safety review of India’s state-run museums.

The museum, in the heart of New Delhi, is popular with school children, but the fire broke out several hours before opening time.

Source: Blaze guts Delhi museum housing dinosaur fossil | Reuters

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