The matter is pretty disturbing. The matter of the museum, which has become a showroom for a private enterprise. It is comprehensive with the structures of neoliberal economies at any rate – e.g. the state heavily subsidises military industry and that in turns provides (free) technology for private enterprise to gain profit from (notice the society in turns gets nothing back from the investment it has committed, of course apart from perhaps some limited employed opportunities and new products to purchase, being hardly enough for the extent of the investment). The cultural institutions work in the same way, publically funded they provide a showroom for let’s say big galleries, who in turn would subsidise individual event providing they can use the institution’s spaces for their benefit (which mean only show the artist who are already commercially present).
Whereas, the matter is very simple. Any sort of project which receives public funding should contain at least one of the following values: intellectual, cultural (social) or historical. If it doesn’t, why should it be publically supported (since it can very well support itself, anyway ).
Of course, here the case of the cultural and social is somewhat tricky and easily exploited (since bureaucrats have no intellectual capacity to determine the other two values), the social and cultural value becomes a shallow slogan without comprehensive understanding of its function.
Thus back to the question of the museum, a showroom for the market. Market which by definition is private. In terms of protection or support of the market, such is not a bad thing (of course taking into the consideration we abandon the myth of the market being free – it is not in the state capitalist economies), but the problem is rather the museum which has lost any of its historical value as an institution. It would be fair to point under the museum banner I group all kind of art centres, state galleries, etc. since their role and social function are not distinguishable to larger degree.
One could say Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) could be renamed into Showroom of Modern Art( SoMA) as there is a basic discrepancy between modern art and the concept of the museum as it was meant originally. One could even go further in saying MoMA has not much to do with the concept of the museum as much as the so called ‘free market’ has nothing to do with being free.
That is most likely true to the relatively new institutions of the so called museums of modern or contemporary art. Museums created in 19th century (100 years before) concentrated on preserving historic objects for the case of later study, but not showcasing contemporary ones, a sensible idea. 100 years later what evolved out of it was the concept of a museum of contemporary art, as a part of steps modernists took to establish their new world’s order and values.
Now we are 100 years past that time, and it seems the inevitable has occured, the institution has acquired a very new form very far from its original one. What to consider: is the museum in its original form still valuable (and i suppose there would be examples of such museums, those which do not affiliate with contemporary activity, e.g. British Museum) and if such, and if it should be kept, should the newly born institutional concept receive a new name and then how should it be funded).
To fully develop this thread one needs to commit further development of ideas in the field of: history, social, political economic and cultural changes (art is a developing parallel, an important cultural signature) and following development of the public institutions from its early beginning. and analysis.