Friday, October 23, 2009

"Brandeis Wasn't Wrong"

An interesting piece inside Inside Higher Ed by former Northwestern dean Rudolph Weingartner, who describes himself as "a lifetime 'consumer' and supporter of the arts." He acknowledges "a significant role for art museums on higher education campuses," but says:

"[W]ith quite special exceptions, I see a very small pedagogic function for colleges and universities to own works of art, especially given the current cost and value of so many of them. ... To be sure, the provisions of deeds of gift must be scrupulously observed; but assuming that to be the case, let them sell their works of art if the funds thus gained will better serve the institutions’ educational mission."

Referring to the "task force formed by arts groups to figure out ways to avoid the next Brandeis," he also notes that such studies tend to turn into preaching-to-the-converted affairs:

"Members of the task force, make sure, ... that you are not just talking to yourselves. You are looking for ways to relate A to B; there must thus be strong representation from both poles. As announced, the organizations participating in the task force are mostly from the Category A: the art museum community. I strongly recommend that it also include not only representation from the art history and studio art departments, but knowledgeable people who have thoughts about how to involve art museums in educating students who are not primarily concerned with the arts."