Posted by: brentatent12 | September 13, 2009

The Art Museum as a Space

The Hirshhorn Museum

The Hirshhorn Museum

As I looked around initially to take in my surroundings, I noticed people from all walks of life meandering throughout the museum.  There were businessmen dressed in suits and ties, and there were parents leading young children around like shepherd with their sheep.  Some of the children looked slightly interested for a little while, but there inevitably came a time when even the most patient of children could take it no longer; “when are were leaving?”, I could clearly hear them ask incredulously.  Also, there were some elderly couples, and self-proclaimed connoisseurs there as well; the latter gazing rapturously at a painting for at least ten minutes.  Finally, there were a few college students and younger people as well—most with a look of derision or befuddlement on their faces as they viewed the art.

Since there was a wide gamut of people at the museum which varied both geographically and socioeconomically, it was not easy to get a good read on any one given group of people.  However, if I were to guess some of their jobs, they could possibly range anywhere from menial labor and unpaid internships for some of the college students and younger people, to highly paid leaders of their industry for the businessmen and more professional looking.  Please keep in mind that this is purely speculation.  Some of the people stopped to read didactics; more notably they were elderly couples, and businessmen, with parents of tourist families as well.  Although some of the younger folk glanced at them, it was never for long for the most part.  John Berger defines mystification as “…the process of explaining away what might otherwise be evident.”  He claims that cultural mystification makes images more remote, and in doing so, makes it more difficult for us to draw conclusions from history.  I believe that this idea ties into modern art, because it is difficult to understand the background of modern art many times because it seems so abstract and random.



  1. I agree that the children at the Hirshhorn had varying degrees of interest in the museum, and also noticed that sometimes they were the one’s steering around their parents. There was one particular example of a little girl who was leading her mother around by the hand say “ooh look at this one!… Ooh, over there!” With a shorter attention span, she did not fully absorb any of the paintings, but the fact that she was there and finding pleasure form the modern art made me feel happy as well.
    I would also like to speculate , that in modern art it is more planned for the background of the piece not be to as understood. It is, in fact, more the process of trying to figure out the background of a piece that causes mystification and misunderstanding of the piece.

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