July 23 2013
Regular readers will know that I get anxious about great art being hidden away in museum basements. The LA Times, however, reports on an intriguing idea:
Behind an art museum's gleaming galleries lies the off-limits and uninviting space that can hold as much as 95% of its collection: storage.
These spaces are often packed with hundreds or even thousands of paintings, decorative art objects and other artifacts that can languish, unappreciated and untouched by curators, for years.
But as a way to bring art out from its underbelly and display more of a museum's possessions, several institutions are embracing "visible storage" in public areas, exhibiting the art without the expense of a spacious, beautifully installed and curated show.
And two new, but quite different, examples are planned for museums in Los Angeles.
At the L.A. County Museum of Art, where only 2.3% of the 119,000-piece collection is currently on view, director Michael Govan has been working with architect Peter Zumthor on new $650-million building plans that would, among other things, bring more artwork out of storage.
Meanwhile, at the Broad under construction downtown, architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro are essentially putting the storage room itself — and maybe the idea of storage as well — on display. The Broad is expected to open to the public by the end of 2014.
Update - a reader writes:
I should just like to highlight that the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre conduct guided tours of their Nitshill storage facility and very good they are too. While I fail to appreciate the utility of art held in public collections languishing unseen - indeed 2nd or 3rd Division art would be better appreciated and loved in private hands - I applaud them for their readiness to cater to the art loving public.