Note: This post is part of my “Museums Project“, a collection of 200+ high-concept ideas for museums.
The Museum of Intermittent Art
Sometimes the art is at the museum, sometimes it is not. It might be back in a few minutes. Or a few weeks. Today the statue is there and tomorrow it is gone, but maybe it’ll be back the day after.
This museum plays with the concept of time-based art – a concept usually associated with mediums like video and music – and applies it to space-based art.
But it’s not just about if the art is on display or not. Perhaps some days it is partially shrouded or in the dark, or otherwise obstructed. Like going to see Mt. Fuji – maybe the day will be clear and maybe it won’t be. What effect does this have on the visitor? Does scarcity create demand? Is there a higher connetion to the art after you’ve been challenged to see it?
There might even be a room where you are asked to put on a blindfold or shut your eyes as you pass otherwise unobstructed art. Does having the choice to see art you are asked not to see change the experience? How does social proof and pressure play into the experience?
Is there fanfare when the art appears? When it goes away? Do you know in advance of going to the museum what is on display that day? Might you show up and the whole place is empty? Would something else take its place? Perhaps some house plants or an apologetic IOU. Or maybe a photo of what you would have seen?
The Museum of Telescopic Art
This was inspired by my visit to the Micro Wonder Museum, an interesting little place 30 minutes outside of Budapest, Hungary. In that tiny museum you look at art through microscope-type lenses. The art is typically very small carvings made of materials like gold and rice grains. The art doesn’t blow you away but the fact that it was made by hand at such small scale is impressive and it makes for a unique experience. It’s also fascinating to think that only one person can look at the art at a time. It’s just you and the art for a few moments in time.
So the telescopic art museum goes in the other direction: what if instead you had to view art through a telescope? The museum is over here and the art is way way over there, across a valley or a river or something. A few hundred yards or more.
What if there were viewing areas on both sides of this valley and art on both sides, but set up in such a way that you couldn’t see the art on your side, just the art on the other side? Compassion and understanding other people or cultures is one obvious subject that comes to mind for this museum.
I’m imagining a valley like the one between Tajikistan and Pakistan or North and South Korea. Something that gives insight from a place you really can’t visit and shows you what the art and life is like “over there”.
Suppose the border of a wealth and poverty. The viewing area and telescopes from the wealth side could be plush and comfortable and the viewing area from the poverty area could reflect the conditions there. To sit in a broken chair and have to use a rusty cracked telescope to view wealth might create a powerful moment of insight.
The McBoatfaced Museum
You might have heard that some years ago the British government polled the internet to name a new military submarine. The internet, being filled with people with not much to do other than mess with people, got together and all voted for “Boaty McBoatface”. The name won. The British now have a official naval vessel named Boaty McBoatface.
Along with the christening of a submarine, this fine episode in British history christened the term “McBoatfaced”. When you leave things up to the internet to decide and people mess with you, you’ve been “McBoatfaced”.
The McBoatfaced Museum would be created and curated by the internet. I think there would need to be some ground rules so that they don’t “mess with” the idea so much as to kill it or make it unworkable or dangerous or offensive. Veto power should not be allowed except for those suggestions going against the ground rules.
However, to ensure that the museum is interesting enough to keep it financially afloat, generous interpretation of the internet’s suggestions will be granted to those actually doing the creating and maintaining of the museum.
The Museum of Stuff Nobody Enjoys Talking About
One of the inspirations for this was The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia (there’s also a second museum in Los Angeles). There was something very captivating about the stories in the MoBR. I’ve never been to a museum and read more than 5% of the placards. But I read ALL of them in the MoBR.
I think the personal sharing and vulnerability and shared humanity exuded by the MoBR was what made it work well. Sure, there were objects associated with each writeup. But for me, they were more like chapter titles to the personal stories on the placard.
What sort of things come to mind for The Museum of Stuff Nobody Enjoys Talking About? Difficult conversations. Asking for a raise. Firing someone. The birds and the bees. Death. Regrets. Unspoken feelings. Delivering bad news. Asking for help. There might be infinite things we don’t like to talk about, depending on the person.
I think each piece in the museum needs to be from a person. It’s not about the concept of “firing someone”. It’s about hearing a specific personal story of firing someone. It’s about seeing another person struggling with (and not enjoying) the conversation.
The wish of the museum is that when you see that others don’t enjoy these conversations, it can soften you up to be able to have these conversations on your own. Some of the exhibits might even be more positive and act like models of how you might lessen the dread of talking about the stuff you don’t want to talk about.
The name of this museum might need some work, because I think once people are IN the conservation they often enjoy it. It’s the dread of conversations that no one enjoys. You might think “the museum of difficult conversations” would fit but I think that is too distant and doesn’t offer much emotional oomph. Using the word “nobody” puts us all together in the same boat and offers the comfort of “nobody enjoys this shit”.