Since Aristotle founded our Museum Movement in ancient Macedonia, we have had the unique position of educating our visitors and members "informally." (People love to learn at their own pace and without the threat of exams.) Unfortunately, education of all kinds has its enemies, even the informal kind.)
Hitler tried to brand modern art as decadent, even going to the extreme of ordered an exhibit of Decadent Art in Berlin. (He had the show taken down, when he discovered an art-starved city was lining up in droves to see it.) French religious fanatics did their best to prevent Dr. Ben Franklin's explanations of static electricity from being displayed in Paris. Politicians tried desperately to fire the Ohio curator who showed the works of Robert Maplethorp etc. etc. etc.
Today a monster murdered a working museum guard at the National Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. Alas. as the citizens of Kansas have learned this week, there are still many warped people and organizations willing to kill those who present ideas or information with which they disagree.
Like thousands of others, I was sickened by the destruction of the ancient images of the Buddha by the Taliban in far away Afghanistan. I felt helpless and empty. Then I remembered a story, that I learned at USC about President Franklin Roosevelt and Postmaster General Jim Farley watching a newsreel about the Nazis burning books in Germany. FDR is supposed to have said, "Damn it Jim, we ought to show the world that we stand for civilization - just the opposite from these s.o.b. s." Jim Farley thought a moment and said, "How about a special book rate through the Post Office." That book rate was at my last knowledge still in effect today.
Remembering this story, I went to my art studio and made a 1000 images of the Buddha and put them all over the college. My emptiness was a little less for it.
Do you, like me, want to tell the world that we are just the opposite of the monster who killed "our" museum guard in Washington D.C.?
I will be asking one of our Museum Community members to organize a trip for The Museum of the San Fernando Valley to the Holocaust Museum downtown Los Angeles in the next few weeks. By going together we can make our own statement.
Want to go along? Call your Museum soon and let me know if you'd like to be included. 1 (818) 347-9665
"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." Thomas Jefferson