Art museums are both necessary and relevant today. They are institutions which conserve, protect and display artifacts from our past, thus preserving a rich heritage that otherwise might have been lost to private collectors or to time itself. Throughout history, large and expensive works of art have generally been commissioned by religious institutions and monarchs and been displayed in temples, churches, and palaces. Exhibiting art in service of the public good was a revolutionary ideal ushered in by the French after churches and palaces were ransacked during the French Revolution. Today art museum collections represent a rich blend of generations, cultures, religions, sciences and opinions, thus act as a visual journal of our society through the past, present and future.
Art galleries offer a dynamic opportunity to expose children to experiences and explore new things in a rich and educational environment. They can provide memorable, immersive learning experiences, provoke imagination, and introduce unknown worlds. Not only that, they also provide an ideal platform for discussing current affairs and placing them in context. The art collections encourage debate on social and political issues. This helps create a shared identity, a mutual understanding of each other’s’ differing opinions. By bringing cultures closer, differences between population groups become smaller. This in turn encourages people to keep an open-minded and curious attitude.
Exhibitions and the use of new media further enhance this debate. This is an issue that Thomas P. Campbell, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, took upon by creating exhibits that tell a story that bring alive to viewers the layers of history underneath the art. In 2011, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its new Islamic wing. The idea behind it is to give the person walking through the gallery to feel the scope of Islam as it spread across Asia, the Middle East and Europe, traversing fourteen centuries of rich and varied manifestations of design characteristic of Islamic art. This exhibition served to widen Americans’ perspectives about Islamic culture. This was particularly important as the horrific 9/11 attack defined American impressions of the Muslim world in a negative way.
Digital art has revolutionized more traditional art forms like painting and sculpture. Some art enthusiasts feel that the arts community has grown to be less real and more superficial because of things like social media and sites like Facebook. For them, an art gallery used to be a place to go to meet up with friends and exchange ideas and build a community. Despite all the good that social media does as a marketing tool for galleries, artists and the arts as a whole, it also removes something from the art world equation: community.
Art galleries such as the Artizen Art Galleries at Pearey Lal Bhawan, help new artists to host their own exclusive art exhibitions. This way art galleries serve as a platform for artists to reach new audiences. Art museums are excellent informal learning environments wherein one can learn about different cultures and explore one’s curiosities about art. Its an enriching experience and the fact that they have existed for years is testimony to its importance.