Be a member
Send article with e-mail
Your e-mail *
Friend e-mail *
CAPTCHA *
CAPTCHA Code *
Refresh CAPTCHA
Comment
* required fields
Send
More
- +
by Archaeology Newsroom

“Masterpieces speak for themselves”! The survival of an old-fashioned view that opposes the educational policy of museums

It is generally demanded in our days that museums should obtain an educational character. To be, that is, so organized that their visitor can become well acquainted with the genres and exhibits and in addition receive such stimulation so as to revisit the museum or to wish to broaden one’s first acquaintance by various means. This approach is an answer to the older view that «works of art speak for themselves”, through, that is, their artistic quality and aesthetic value. The followers of this older belief argue that the beautiful has an innate educational quality, while any educational effort not only causes fatigue but is also illiberal. In imposing a certain view, an ideology, consequently, the free experiencing of the work of art is prevented.

Thus, however, they neglect the fact that the degree of experiencing is conditioned both by the visitor’s ability to perceive and one’s knowledge so far, obtained by factors that are different for each category of visitor. Therefore, if we let the works of art, even the masterpieces, speak for themselves it is certain that they will hardly say a few things to the visitor. On the contrary, the visitor will gain knowledge if the exhibits are presented in their historic setting, if information is given about their makers and users, about their initial meanings and functions and those attributed to them in later periods. For this to be achieved hard and demanding work is needed both in organizing an exhibition and in advancing scientific research. However, the result, a museum with many and regular visitors, is more than worthwhile.