The tide was already turning in 2019, when the modern Art Museum in New York, inaugurated its new building with 100% of its galleries dedicated to his own art and announced a new approach to programming (and member sales) that puts collectible displays first. These should be golden years for collection presentations, and young curators in particular should take this opportunity to redeploy collections to new goals. Look at him Cleveland Art Museum, whose recent acclaimed show “Storage storiesAbsorbed hundreds of rarely-exhibited objects – medieval illustrations of plague saints, Tibetan thangka paintings, animal figures from interwar Vienna – into a chorus of new meanings.
2. Think beyond the exposure.
But a show is not always the smartest route. At Serpentine Galleries in London, the commissioner Lucia PietroiustiThe “General Ecology” program looked at climate and culture through lectures, publications, podcasts, book groups, residences, film screenings – and almost no exhibitions. If the post-Covid museum must first rediscover its own collection, it could also imagine new forms of nested programming that extend far beyond the walls of the gallery. An additional advantage: such programming is generally cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
3. Join us and co-produce.
Opera and dance companies have been doing this for years: when a production becomes expensive, they share the costs and then the glory. A post-Covid museum could spread the burden on its biggest businesses – as will happen with this fall’s Jasper Johns retrospective, jointly organized by the Whitney and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Institutions rightly seem to feel more comfortable with acquisitions of joint collections, such as when Los Angeles County Museum of Art and J. Paul Getty Museum co-acquired the archives of Robert Mapplethorpe, or the Philadelphia Museum and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts bought together Thomas Eakins’ Gross Clinic.
Museums could also help themselves by creating more permanent partnerships: The International, a consortium of seven European modern art museums (from Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid at SALT in Turkey) with a joint program of exhibitions, debates and online projects. Why shouldn’t a one-year research initiative span two or three university museums? Could a museum in Minneapolis, with its large Somali population, have a permanent partnership with a museum in Mogadishu?
4. Partner beyond the art world.
Of American Museum of Natural History in New York to Castello di Rivoli, near Turin, Italy, museums this spring turned their galleries into vaccination sites. Why not let the doctors and nurses stay for a while? Joining local hospitals, universities, laboratories and other (well-funded) research institutes seems a natural decision for the post-Covid museum: imagine a psychiatrist collaborating on portrait exhibitions, or a lawyer engaging in them. conceptual art challenges.