The Temple and the Street: Breaking the boundaries between high and low art

The Museum opened itself up to an unusual time – the night, and therefore the whole character of the building changed. From a kind of modern “temple”, where a strict etiquette goes hand in hand with praising the artworks as sacred objects, the museum became somewhat closer to its opposite – the “street”, to the life and art outside the walls of the imaginary “garden of aesthetics”. Different influences began to interfuse: different people, different art and style. The boundaries between “high” and “low” art began to change.

Why is an art museum being compared to a temple? Mostly because of the feeling it evokes in its visitors: how do the people understand the museum, how do they behave in it. In contemporary society, where – for many – God is dead, cathedrals and temples continue to loose their original function, people begin to visit similar institutions of secular character.

Walk quietly, do not talk aloud, do not take photographs and let the artworks speak for themselves! You are just visitors, passive contemplators! Museums and galleries are generally understood as rather conservative institutions and the artworks are being displayed as objects of unquestionable value. However, a visitor who takes the art as something living in its own world beyond our understanding will hardly find his way to modern or contemporary art, which requires understanding and – often very subjective – interpretation. The previous two centuries of museology and strategies of presenting art collections have, in museum visitors, embodied a feeling, that the artworks are untouchable both literally and in a transferred meaning. Maintain a sufficient distance and take the artwork as it is; no subjective interpretations! Leave your corporeal body on the street and enter the museum just as a set of eyes and contemplating mind.

The 2008 Night in the Museum in Museum Kampa, which was led by the motto of breaking the boundaries between the temple and the street and at the same time between high and low art, was aimed to question this traditional conception of an art museum. The understanding of an art museum as a temple became more commonplace and accessible, an opinion which we do not necessarily have to agree with. On June 14 visitors to our museum could experience a magical night, blurring the distance between reality and illusion, not knowing where the street ends and the museum building begins. Under the cover of the night visitors found out, that almost anything can be a work of art. Within this strange night they might not had be able to distinguish if they were standing in front of a masterpiece or if it was just a joke and perhaps they might have given a thought to whether it is even possible to search for reasonable differences between the two.

Partners, sponsors and artists: Art-Box, Perfect Catering a Kluci v akci, Tiskárna Polička, Konzervatoř a VOŠ Jaroslava Ježka, ZUŠ Prosek, Jan Noháč, Zrní, Quite Quiet a Jaroslav Matula – Mutant Industries


Pořadatelé Pražské muzejní noci: Národní muzeum, Dopravní podnik hl.m. Prahy, a.s., Asociace muzeí a galerií ČR


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