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La Maison Rouge

THE PUBLIC DISPLAY of private collections is a complex, eccentric enterprise that continues to engender debate. Rather than ranging in practice, presentations of personal collections exist principally at opposite ends of an ideological spectrum. On one side is the distillation of “masterpieces” from private collections. The Arensberg Collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Annenberg Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York are examples of private holdings kept intact and isolated within larger institutional contexts, usually installed in some neutral gallery space. In such cases, the domestic sphere of the original owners is eclipsed by a canonical display of assembled booty. At the other end of the gamut, the institutionalization of the house museum—what art historian Anne Higonnet has dubbed the “gift of the museum”—yields a lively presence on the museological

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