In a nauseating story that just won’t die, the Wall Street Journal today chimed in (to the tune of 1300 words) on climate activists’ gloppy food attacks that are besmirching museum masterpieces (which I have roundly debunked—here and here). Like the other journalists who have joined the chorus, WSJ art-market reporter Kelly Crow has given credence to those who have seen fit to “sound the alarm to protect life on this planet” (in the words of protest-supporter Aileen Getty, as quoted by Kelly). Notably scarce or absent from recent coverage are comments from museum professionals and art experts, who may fear jeopardizing their own institutions by going public with their objections (although they did tell Crow how they are trying to protect the art).
I added my own “expert” comment to what are (at this writing) 136 published reactions to Crow’s piece.
Notwithstanding the reticence of individual museums, the Association of Art Museum Directors did take the semi-bold step of tweeting this on Nov. 3, some four days before Crow’s post went online:
Crow didn’t mention AAMD’s statement in her WSJ piece, perhaps because she didn’t know about it: The premier professional organization for art museums has been surprisingly discreet in expressing opposition to the protesters. I only found AAMD’s statement because I follow @MuseumDirectors on Twitter (which I guess also helps to answer my self-directed question as to why I’m still on Twitter). I received no emailed press release about AAMD’s statement, nor do I see anything about it on the association’s website (aside from a link to its tweet).
Let’s face it: Audacious attacks on van Gogh and Monet are far more attention-grabbing and newsworthy than the considered comments by wonkish curators, scholars (and even art critics?).
Speaking of which, Crow gives the last word in her WSJ article to Margaret Klein Salamon, executive director of the Climate Emergency Fund: “Activists aren’t trying to drive museums crazy. Earlier actions like gluing themselves to fuel tankers or protesting in front of oil terminals just never captured the same amount of attention. ‘Frankly, this is the thing that’s worked,’ she [Salamon] said.”
As I told NPR (in comments that it chose not to use), these tactics have indeed worked in getting attention. But it’s the wrong kind of attention: It’s an attack on cultural heritage. It won’t win any converts to the important, necessary cause of combating climate change. If anything, it will alienate museumgoers who love great art and can’t bear to see it desecrated.
MAKE IT STOP!!!
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