The conception of this blog is long over due, so forgive me if I write posts about things I saw/places I went to quite some time ago.
A few months ago when it was not snowing in new England, I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In 2006 the MFA opened a jewelry wing(<—click), started by a donation from a private collection. This is a BIG DEAL; the MFA was smart enough to appoint the very first curator of jewelry in an American art museum… in America…ever. The collection spans work from ancient Egypt to contemporary studio jewelry, but it is not clear as to the extent of the contemporary collection, how knowledgeable the museum is about this field or how the original patron acquired the pieces. I believe there is a difference in whether the work was critically chosen/ curated to represent cultural significance in the field or if the collection merely represents the patron’s personal tastes… the role of the museum in this regard changes slightly in my opinion. It gets fishy because on one hand, the collection is culturally significant just because it’s the only one of its kind in the US— but does this negate the museum’s role of being a critical institution that makes selections based on quality and meaning, just because it was handed some jewelry? This question really unleashes topics I could discuss for days and days and days… and parallels some of jewelry’s fundamental “problems” in regards to value and importance. Is the museum solely relying on the material value of its collection, or does it distinguish the conceptual work from the merely historic?
I suppose a collector is a collector and collection is a collection. Regardless, the MFA’s interest does mark progress in an American appreciation/promotion of jewelry’s potential as a higher form of art. I’d like to consider this a partial win, however the display conventions are a nightmare and the room is about as big as a shitty studio apartment.
I wish I had some pictures to share, but my computer was stolen a few weeks ago and my last back-up was in April. This is bound to be a reoccurring inconvenience.