Museum piece?

When I say that something is a museum piece, it often carries the connotation that it is something that no longer has relevance to a living culture, and that it can only be found behind glass panels in a museum. This got me to thinking… what if museums thought of themselves as preserving things that are akin to endangered species, that would disappear without a specific effort to preserve them, and they made it part of their mission to “release them back into the wild,” to make them part of a living culture again, to try to preserve the environments that created them? Why keep art and cultural artifacts dead behind glass walls? Why not infuse our culture with old memes every now and then, after they’ve been forgotten? Clearly, this would not be appropriate for some museums, such as the Holocaust museum, but surely this would produce good results for many art, historical, and cultural museums. Is this already being done by anyone? If so, to what degree?

UPDATE: In a slightly related train of thought, while googling “museum piece”, I came upon this poem… it’s probably not that profound, but I found it interesting:

==Richard Wilbur – Museum Piece==

The good gray guardians of art
Patrol the halls on spongy shoes,
Impartially protective, though
Perhaps suspicious of Toulouse.

Here dozes one against the wall,
Disposed upon a funeral chair.
A Degas dancer pirouettes
Upon the parting of his hair.

See how she spins! The grace is there,
But strain as well is plain to see.
Degas loved the two together:
Beauty joined to energy.

Edgar Degas purchased once
A fine El Greco, which he kept
Against the wall beside his bed
To hang his pants on while he slept.

I’m in Newsweek

I hide under a desk for the benefit of Newsweek
Different Realities: Pavlosky lives in two worlds

For people who just can’t get enough of Nelson, there’s a picture of me in Newsweek this week. I also get to say a line or two, although they unfortunately don’t mention Ah well, maybe people will google my name and turn up my blog, and find out about free culture that way 🙂

UPDATE: In case the original article becomes unavailable, here’s my quote:

And yet, for those who fully embrace the new world, the possibilities are great. Napster, after all, was created by Shawn Fanning in his dorm room at Northeastern, and college dropouts famously founded Microsoft and Apple. Students push technology forward. That’s why Nelson Pavlosky, a Swarthmore student active in the copyright wars over file sharing, thinks all campuses are worth watching. “It’s what the rest of the country might look like in two to five years.” And then he pauses for a profundity moment. “Hey,” he says. “We are the future.” It’s the sort of thing college students have always said. But guys like Pavlosky might actually be right.

By John Schwartz
Newsweek © 2005