Do University Museums Matter?

Music in Jesse posterIn this tidal wave of economic and cultural change, many university museums face daunting challenges to maintaining their priceless collections and sometimes even to their continued existence. The high profile case of Brandeis University proposing to sell off its notable collection was just the tip of the iceberg. Push has come to shove…

While species extinction may be the rule in nature, the arts and humanities (in the form of university museums) hopefully involve us in a discussion of the nature and purpose of higher education as well. A recent New York Times column by Holland Cotter entitled “Why University Museums Matter” examines some encouraging examples that demonstrate the unique value and capabilities of university museums.

In Cotter’s words:

“In a bleak economy, when our big public museums threaten to sink under budget-busting excesses, the university museum offers a model for small, intensely researched, collection-based, convention-challenging exhibitions that could get museums through a bumpy present and carry them, lighter and brighter, into the future.”

Current and upcoming exhibitions here at the Museum of Art & Archaeology fit Cotter’s model nicely. The question really becomes: Do university museums like Cotter describes matter to you?

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