Home > Hot Button Issues >file in: Cry or Laugh Department
Tue, Oct 15th, 2013 10:15:46 AM
Topic: file in: Cry or Laugh Department

Sometime ago RK mused with the idea of starting a "Cry or Laugh" Topic Area but decided against it for several reasons, not he least of which is we already have enough Topic Areas.

Anyway, today's edition of that rag hali's website informs RugDumB of the "gift" of a collection of Central Asian carpets and textiles the Corfu Museum in Greece just received.

While RK is surely not against anyone donating to museums, we've hoped someone would make a donation, cash please, to our Weaving Art Museum, we are against museums showing mediocre and worse art just because someone donated it.

Often such donations include money, which is no doubt the reason a museum would accept stuff like this in the first place.

Here two of the pictures of the pieces donated in Corfu

Pictures from that rag hali website showing some of the gift donation to the Corfu museum

Not in anyone's book, on any day, in any year, is this type of material museum quality.

So why do museum's accept such less than stellar weaving art?

We already mentioned the oft times associated financial gift, but we are equally sure most times the museums don't know the difference when it comes to 'ethnographic' weavings, ie those that are not Safavid or Ottoman Court products.

Now, we surely do not know the behind the scene story here but after viewing the photos on that rag hali's website we do know not one of the pieces shown could even vaguely be called 'museum quality'.

Then there are vanity donations for tax reasons, like that which james, aka 'generous' jim, burns made in Seattle. These are usually done by those which good connections to the museum staffers, or those who are locally well connected politically.

Other times, as in the case of McCoy Jones who tried to give his collection of Turkmen rugs to many museums with no success, he finally hit pay-dirt with the deYoung Museum in San Francisco after attaching a very sizable financial donation/contribution to his 'gift'.

Not to mention McCoy's insistence the deYoung hire cathrine, "must buy", cootner as 'textile' curator.

Oh Yeah, don't forget McCoy also agreed to pay her salary as part of the deal.

RK is sure there are hundreds of similar stories of museum donations, which transfer mediocre to airport-art to institutions solely to benefit the donor, or through other means to benefit the institution in completely other ways.

It's business, pure and simple. It has nothing to do with Art or Art Appreciation.

However, since historic Near Eastern textile arts are so poorly represented in the world's many museums, showing less than important examples, as is the case with Corfu, james burns and others we could mention, doesn't really benefit the public.

At least in the case of McCoy Jones several of the almost 100 Turkmen weavings were top pieces, and the few great archetype Anatolian Kelim, which were among the 100 plus Kelim McCoy gifted, surely make his donation eminently worthwhile and above criticism.

Too bad we can't say the same for Corfu, or for the gift of many Yomud weavings to the Perth Museum in Australia, which was also recently mentioned on that rag hali's website as well as in their print edition.

The only way carpet studies will receive the attention it is due, from both museum professionals and the public at large, is when masterpiece weavings are exhibited, and exhibited accompanied by worthy research, scholarly discussion and scientific analysis.

As for the Corfu museum?

We are sure as soon as the exhibition is over most of the donation will be secreted in the basement or attic where it will gather dust for probably a generation, or maybe more. And the pieces which will be shown will do little to encourage public awareness or involvement with Central Asian.

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