Museums | Antonio S. Río Vázquez

«In the cathedrals already nobody prays out of the pre-established hours. No believer gives up to the concentration even an instant during his tourist walk. It is possible that we have lost up to our aptitude to get excited – of crying, says James Elkins– also opposite to the artistic fact. And we have lost it because we lack the necessary time, because we do not return to see, because we despise what we have nearby and estimate what is far. Because our museums and monuments, with his mass-production and his elegant lighting, with his order, with his programs guided for tourists, remove us from certain transcendent feeling, be the one that is for each one».

Estrella de Diego: Rincones de postales. Turismo y hospitalidad

Thomas Struth, Pergamon Museum 2 (2001)

Almost a decade ago, immediately after the project of a center of contemporary art, I wrote a small reflection on the paper of the museums in the current company. Then I took of Magritte a metaphor to simulate the commanding contradiction in the panorama museístico of the moment, where two seemingly opposite facts were coexisting: they were immersed institutions in a great crisis and, nevertheless, in the history they had never woken so many expectations up.

The wealth of the paradox was demonstrating also in the concept of «contemporary art museum»: on one hand, he sends to a place his where objects are stored to be examined, preserved and, in certain way, frozen in the time; for other one, the contemporary art protests to turn into something increasingly conceptual, publicly, and even ephemeral.

Progressively, the technological advances allow the free access from any place of the world to an immense virtual gallery with artistic works of all the times, generating a new type of museum, an intangible, opened and shared structure where the creators build his plots and where any individual can turn into author, since many artists were protesting.

The current museum has wanted to look for other alternative, complementary ways to the explanatory space: cycles of activities, didactic workshops, mediatecas, shops and cafeterias … while it tries pervivir as the place where every person could have a direct, alive and personal meeting with the work of art.

Recently I could have read de Estrella de Diegos´interesting book of postcards, Rincones de postales, where he dedicates the chapter «Areas on the history: museums and cathedrals» to thinking about the current importance of these spaces, observing how they have changed the museums because his public also has transformed, this public who portrays masterfully Struth in his photographic series.

«Not only they are now much more abundant, but much more absent-minded, the guide or the autoguide think about his things while, very popularized, it is explaining the rooms. There is all the same what they have ahead, nothing manages to catch them genuinely».

And this way, while the visitor loses the capacity of emotion, the museums continue proliferating for every people and city, invading places and public resources independently of the interest of his content. Or even more seriously: sadly empty.

A decade ago I wrote that the museum should be a cozy place, where the most important thing was exposed in his interior and not the own museum, and that his presence in a city had to be that of an alive organism opened for the great diversity of manifestations that the company could offer, blurring the borders between the private thing and the public thing, between the work of art and the culture of the daily thing, and now I add: where the visitor recovers the aptitude to get excited because, as well Estrella de Diego expressed it, «every time fewer places stay where to dream».

Antonio S. Río Vázquez . Doctor architect

A Coruña. november 2014

Antonio S. Río Vázquez

Antonio S. Río Vázquez (A Coruña, 1981) es arquitecto por la E.T.S.A. de A Coruña, master en Urbanismo y doctor por la Universidade da Coruña. Especializado en teoría y diseño, su línea de trabajo se ha centrado en la investigación y divulgación del patrimonio arquitectónico moderno. Ha desarrollado proyectos de modo independiente y ha colaborado con varios estudios de arquitectura. Es socio fundador de Aroe Arquitectura. Es profesor en el Departamento de Proyectos Arquitectónicos, Urbanismo y Composición de la Universidade da Coruña, y ha sido profesor invitado en la Robert Gordon University de Aberdeen (Reino Unido), en la Universidade do Minho (Portugal) y en la Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza (Italia). Es miembro de la red UEDXX Urbanism of European Dictatorships during the XXth Century, del Grupo de Investigación en Historia de la Arquitectura IALA y del Grupo de Innovación Educativa en Historia de la Arquitectura. Ha formado parte del proyecto de investigación FAME Fotografía y Arquitectura Moderna en España, 1925-1965. Los resultados de sus investigaciones, tanto personales como conjuntas, han servido como aportación a eventos de debate y difusión científica y han sido publicados en libros y revistas.

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