The Public Art Centre in West Bromwich UK recently opened, and is already demounting many of its exhibits which have failed to perform. The Art Newspaper has been tracking this project June 08 and Feb 09. Their recent piece on the opening is only in print and not yet online.
I have not been there but from what I can tell The Public is a peculiar hybrid of museum types with the aim of being all inclusive, community-oriented, friendly and accessible in posture and yet holding it self up as a premier international art museum housed in an iconic architecture. They have no collection of their own. Instead it is filled with loaned exhibitions, and site-specific installations. For the opening at least there seems to be an emphasis on digital and interactive art. As they state in their own words “The Public has something for everyone, putting amateur work beside professional, young next to old and setting local projects right alongside digital exhibits and contemporary sculpture by top international artists.”
Apparently the building was design by Wil Alsop but design was at some point taken over by another firm. It shows. This procees seems as indecisive as the museum’s program. I suspect this is the echo of the Bilbao Effect, discussed on a previous post, but it took too long to realize this one (it began in 1993, opened in 2009) that the mission and architecture had to be hastily revised to address the changed climate since the crash of Sept 2008. By the time it opened the world has changed and the original vision looks quite outdated. Its kind of like a guest arriving late to a party dressed to the nines and full of enthusiasm only to discover that everyone who is still there is busy cleaning up the mess. It does question whether iconic museum architecture can be sustained, or even if it should be. Is it a good idea to have something for everyone? Can you really make a successful museum out of nothing? Does anyone know more about this strange and elusive project?