Photograph of the Carnegie Museum of Art featuring the water pool

Change Is in Order

It’s a new year, a time for taking stock. It has been almost three years since I started writing Inside the Museum. The impetus behind the monthly post was to make the workings of Carnegie Museum of Art more transparent. I very much wanted to combat the sense that the institution is monolithic, speaking with a single anonymous but powerful voice. This isn’t easy, given the grand edifice in which we reside and our august history. But, like most institutions and businesses, CMOA is at its core a bunch of individuals, sometimes with competing agendas, doing work that they believe is important. When things are going well, their voices do cohere to make a powerful whole, but that dynamic emerges out of the efforts of hard-working people, most of them idealists, who believe that art can give meaning to people’s lives, changing them for the better. (The current Carnegie International is the result of that kind of commitment on the part of numerous staff members, which is why I think it works so well.)

Over the last three years, I’ve written about notions of elitism in the arts, which I believe are not only erroneous but also extremely dangerous to museums and other cultural institutions; shifts in generational expectations for leisure time activities and the ways museums must change to meet them; the process of installing an exhibition; the importance of art education; building a museum collection; and other works, exhibitions, or programs in places around the globe that I have found particularly instructive or moving. We’ve explored the nature of international survey shows in preparation for the International, and in one instance we looked at the way a curator and a conservator, using insight and research, discovered that an authentic Renaissance painting existed beneath a 19th-century fake in CMOA’s collection. (That painting, and the process of uncovering it, will be featured in our forthcoming exhibition Faked, Forgotten, Found: Five Renaissance Paintings Investigated, opening June 28; don’t miss it!)

I’ve very much enjoyed writing these monthly posts, but after almost three years, I’ve come to feel that change is in order. I don’t want Inside the Museum to become stale, which I think is always a possibility. So, rather than writing it each month, I’ve decided to post when there are issues that I feel are particularly important to address or works or exhibitions that I have a strong desire to share or examine. You won’t be hearing from me as frequently, but I hope that when you do receive a post it will have an impact. And who knows?—You could hear from me sooner than you think!

I wish you a very happy and healthy 2014!

Inside the Museum is Carnegie Museum of Art director Lynn Zelevansky’s blog about the local and global impacts of the museum and the art world. For past installments, please visit the archive.