After college, taking too many sociology classes about how things are presented and what they mean, we didn’t really pay all that much attention to criticism of museums until we started up here at UnBeige HQ (“Home of Designy, The Design Mascot!”). But now we pick up things here and there and it’s kind of rekindled our…no, not love…our occasional interest in the subject. This season, it seems, is the big “bashing museums week” from all the little bits we’ve found ourselves reading. First there was all that hatred of the Quai Branly when it opened, last week’s New Yorker with Calvin Tomkins’ pretty negative feature on what the Museum of Metropolitan Art has become since getting their new digs, and now, just yesterday, we found Nicolai Ouroussoff, in the NY Times, bashing the new Ara Pacis Museum in Rome. But you know the best part of all the negative press with these things, and hence maybe our fascination? These are people who exist in the art world, so when they get mad, they get really catty:
But in its relationship to the glories of the city around it, the building is as clueless as its Fascist predecessors. The piazza, designed in the 1930′s, was a blunt propaganda tool intended to invest the Fascist state with the grandeur of imperial Rome; Mr. Meier’s building is a contemporary expression of what can happen when an architect fetishizes his own style out of a sense of self-aggrandizement. Absurdly overscale, it seems indifferent to the naked beauty of the dense and richly textured city around it.