Sad news reported today in the Baltimore Sun - That the Contemporary Museum here in Baltimore has decided to suspend operations because they aren't able to operate in their current financial situation.
I started to say more and then realized I'm not sure I have much to say about it, except that it's a shame.
Hope they'll come up with a plan to rethink the museum in a way that will attract fundraising from the city and private business.
Perhaps they could hold a high speed car race through the city. Or get a few horses together for a day of fraternity style binge drinking, fancy hats and mayoral photo ops?
I will say in defense of the lack of philanthropy for the museum that I haven't been interested enough in a show there to visit for over two years. I love the museum, and one of the best shows I've ever seen (Beautiful Losers) was brought there six years ago and I have since then been eternally grateful (if not slightly taking it for granted) that we have a venue like Contemporary for shows like that to travel to. Since Beautiful Losers came to Baltimore six years ago, a handful of great galleries have emerged. Nudashank in the H&H Building, Open Space on Sisson Street, A new and more permanent location for Current Gallery, and most recently, Sofia Jacob on Franklin. All of these galleries being artist run, we are full on blasting into an era of DIY. If Baltimore can't provide a high quality space for art shows - then dammit, we'll do it ourselves. I am guilty of not fully knowing what's gone on at the Contemporary Museum in the meantime... but the contemporary art scene is (if not thriving) growing rapidly in our city, and it actually shocks me that our most obviously named venue for Contemporary Art can't find footing.
Are we a city going downhill and bankrupt, unable to support the arts? Are we more interested in the social, lower-brow atmosphere provided by artist run galleries than the more formal atmosphere of a museum? Are we falling into the same problems the music industry has, and now feeling that art should be free and available to us whenever we please, rather than feeling a responsibility to fund the venues that bring it to us? Are we finally becoming a city more demanding of high quality, and holding back because contemporary hasn't delivered?
I don't actually know, and I don't have an opinion just now. I'm curious to hear what people have to say about it, and I'm hopeful for a bounceback from the museum. The current exhibition actually looked very promising.
The museum will shut down May 31st, so try to get in before they do. Nope, nevermind. They've already closed.