TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT Summer 1987

MUSEUM PIECE

On the job.

THE MUSEUM AS AN institution evolved from being essentially a storehouse, its rooms, no matter how rich (and made rich by the art they held), functioning in the end as simple containers, to being a vital place for art, a space both activated and activating. Yet this development is often ignored by contemporary curators, some of whom seem to prefer an unadventurous conception of their roles to a fully alive one. In so doing, they are neglecting a pleasure, an opportunity, and indeed a responsibility.

Even when painters and sculptors began to address the issues of the frame and the pedestal in the last quarter of the 19th century, the relationship between environment and work did not fundamentally change—in painting, for example, the canvas was basically still seen as a window into another space rather than as an object functioning in this one. During and after World War I, however, the

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