Sunday, April 15, 2007

Against Original Location Fundamentalism

The Cranky Professor pushes back (crankily) against those making a fuss over Thomas Jefferson University's Eakins sales:

"Why shouldn't it be alright to say something like 'We're a medical school, not an art museum. If we can get $100 million dollars to plow into medical education that's more important than the pious preservation in one room of three portraits of mid-19th century professors.' ... I want doctors who were trained with all the latest toys. I want a cure for cancer. Keep the art in museums. . . .

"Should the collection or any individual painting stay in Philadelphia? Why on earth - unless they raise the money for them. They did raise enough between two institutions and a public outcry to keep one of the three. Should the Elgin Marbles go back to the Acropolis? What is the painting about? The history of art? The history of medicine? Philadelphia in the mid-19th Century? Unless you're going to be an Original Location fundamentalist there's really very little justification not to move art from place to place on the basis of price."