Peta Motture vs. The Enlightenment Gallery

“A curator of an art gallery has to take in account what the audience in all its variety wants to see.” These were Ms Motture’s words at the beginning of our class. Of course, if you think about it the whole point of curating and designing a gallery is to make it appealing to the public, to present it as well as you can so that the flow of people will increase as the good word about the gallery spreads. Perhaps the curator of the Enlightenment Gallery at the BM ( by the way, her name is Kim Sloan ) did not pay much attention to all the issues addressed by Peta, but I believe that there is much more than we, as ordinary visitors, can see and observe. It is probably so subtle that we cannot even perceive it. For instance, the name of the gallery is The Enlightenment Gallery. I noticed, perhaps erroneously, but maybe not, that the whole room is bright: the wide windows at located high on the walls of the gallery allow sunlight to flood the room, hence making the Enlightenment section Bright. Back to Ms Motture’s statement, I believe that the amount and the heterogeneity of the items that were (and had to be) displayed did not permit the curator to take in account the variety of the visitors. It was either the visitors or the exhibition. Fine, perhaps the disposition and the clarity of the objects could be improved, but what’s the whole purpose of a gallery if not identifying yourself with an individual from the age on display and seeing it actually with the eye of someone living 2 and a half centuries ago? It was probably a mess back then. Items crammed together on shelves. Then, as I was reading the labels on the cases, I suddenly remembered the issue (apparently big) brought up during our discussion in class: Ms Motture was very concerned about the length of the descriptions for each object, whereas I noticed that the ones in the Enlightenment Gallery exceeded the “50-word-criterion” that Peta told us about. But after all, different objects have different needs, and some have to be explained more thoroughly than others, also given the historical context to which they belong. But they mostly did not concern the history of the object or its use, rather they focused on their acquisition by famous collectors and the journey that brought them to the BM. Listening to Peta Motture’s speech, each and every segment of a gallery is designed to entertain, engage and transform the visitor and her knowledge. The Enlightenment Gallery, despite its formal partition, has to be taken as a one ( like this post, one chunk ), and the visitor should engage with it as a whole. But after all, there is always space for improvement.


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