The Decline of the Museum

The decline of museums, and noteworthy, The Brooklyn Museum, is yet another sad commentary on our societal woes, and misplaced values.

In the 1960s I probably held membership in as many as ten museums. In 2002 feeling flush I had memberships in museums too far for me to visit but supported. Today I retain only one membership, and that is with the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and loose ties to the Modern Museum of Art.

It is not that I don't love all the museums I abandoned, it is that they abandoned me with their rising membership costs, and my flagging income.

We have few museums that are government funded, an infinitesimal number held by municipalities, like the Museum of the City of New York, and very few opportunities for multiple-museum memberships as they have in France and the Netherlands.

Yet, without museums fewer people will ever have the chance to see a van Gogh, a Picasso, an Egyptian tomb, a Dumas, the likes of Paula Rego, the works of the known and unfamiliar, or know what a dinosaur might have looked like or understand the earliest telescope or appreciate the early use of the astrolabe.

Whatever happened to the early, positive concepts that formed the basis for the National Endowment for the Arts?

How did Wall Street beat Main Street, and destroy community?


  1. I read your post with great sadness. Do you think that this is local to the USA or that other countries have the same problems? It seems to me (and maybe I am just being old and cranky here) that younger people dismiss, rather than venerate the past a a greater rate today than 50 years ago.

  2. It is hard to say whether it is a universal issue or restricted to the US.

    Most museums in Western Europe, and even elsewhere, receive funds from the government. The funds keep them open and often entry fees are waived or bulk purchases are offered for all the museums in a given town, city or even country.

    However, on my last visit to Italy the museums were nearly empty. But for a reasonable sum I was able to visit all those I wanted to see.