Last updated May 31, 2014.
I. THE THREAT AT THE MET
A museum that’s free by law, by tradition and by right. See Metropolitan Museum of Art, Charter, constitution, by-laws, lease, laws : together with the original constitution and a summary of its amendments. [Met 1910]
A judge decided there’s nothing wrong with a little “nudge,” and isn’t a penny the same as free? Saska2013a. The decision follows by a week an agreement signed between the Museum and the outgoing Mayor's Office, ratifying the unsigned agreement of 1970. The agreement was signed before a new mayor was elected, and was subject to ratification by a new City Council, neither of which could be expected to be as sympathetic to the Museum.
We’re dealing with what sociologists call a “total social fact”. The concept was developed by the French anthropologist Marcel Mauss in Mauss 1924a, following a theory developed by his uncle, the sociologist Emile Durckheim. More recently, and speaking of American culture, Goffman 1963, p. 13 describes social situations in which “normals and stigmatized... enter one another's immediate presence” as “one of the primal scenes of sociology.” The dean of the history and sociology of American museums, Neil Harris, writes of “The museum experience” as “a continually revised set of transactions between exhibitor and visitor, with constant renegotiations of meaning and value,... raising basic questions about the logic, efficiency and sensitivity of viewing rituals long taken for granted.” Harris 1990a. Mairesse 2005, p. 66. and Mairesse 2010, pp. 145 sqq. brings Mauss to bear on the logic of the Gift in museum admissions, albeit with radically different conclusions from mine:
“It is always the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the direct producers—a relation always naturally corresponding to a definite stage in the development of the methods of labor and thereby its social productivity—which reveals the innermost secret, the hidden basis of the entire social structure and with it the political form of the relation of sovereignty and dependence.” Marx 1981, p. 927.
“We’re not shy about asserting that we ask visitors to pay whatever they can.” Quoted, New York Sun, 7/13/2006.
A former supervisor recently confirmed that ticket vendors are systematically pressured by Management to squeeze as much as they can from visitors. New York Post, 7/6/2013, Boroff 2013a; Based on an affidavit filed by Gerald Lee Jones, a supervisor in the Met's admissions department from 2007 to 2011.
The New York Times asserts that paying less than full price would “risk the disapproving glance of a ticket agent.” New York Times 7/21/2006.
The New York Times is to the Metropolitan Museum of Art what Izvestia was to the Kremlin. Seldes 1987.
An editorial protesting the display of a mangy shark in formaldehyde... New York Times, 7/20/2007.
For decades the publisher and part-owner of the Times was a member, then a Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Arthur Ochs ["Punch"] Sulzberger, publisher and Chairman of the Board at the New York Times, was a member of the Met’s Board of Trustees, from 1968 on, Chairman of the Board from 1983 to 1998, and Chairman Emeritus until his death in 2012.
A third of the Met’s visitors are foreigners, and they “tend” to pay the full amount requested. New York Times, 3/12/2009.
I guess he wasn’t up on his sociological theory: you see, if you let people get away with small things like carrying a bag or not paying admission or not fixing a broken window... See the synopsis of the theories of James Q. Wilson in The Atlantic 3/1982.
As for the poor, the young, minorities and the vulnerable, the fear of being pressured should be enough to make them pay the full amount if it doesn’t keep them away to begin with. In his classic book on stigma, Goffman 1963, p. 81 sqq. defines certain locales as "civil places, where persons of the individual's kind... are carefully, and sometimes painfully, treated as if they were not disqualified for routine acceptance, when in fact they somewhat are."
Back in 1970, before the Museum started having people line up to pay a penny or more, African American attendance was around 2%. Schoener 1995, n. p.
It’s well established that minority attendance at museums goes up with free admissions—not to mention a hassle-free environment. See Trescott 2006a, misquoted in Smith 2006a to suggest that admission for "non-whites" had spontaneously tripled up after free admissions were instituted. Doreen Bolger, Director of the Baltimore Museum of Art, merely mentioned that attendance of non-Caucasians had gone from 7% to 18% during those few, free hours; and that future plans to institute across-the-board free admissions would be accompanied by aggressive community outreach. Just as there are many more ways to keep minority populations from voting than the poll tax, there are many more ways to keep underserved populations out of the museum than admission fees.
Even in New York, the runner-up for most segregated city in America, the Met shines like an upside-down urinal. Census figures for 2010 show the New York Metropolitan Area to be the third most segregated urban area in America after Detroit and Milwaukee; one can reasonably assume that New York City alone ranks higher, and Manhattan at the tippy-top. See CensusCope, 2010a; Brookings Institution, 2011.
Shielding kids at the back door, for a fee, from the fear and the intimidation that the Museum promotes at the front. Goffman 1963, p. 4: “The responses [to socially imposed stigma] are what benevolent action is designed to soften and ameliorate.”
The Museum’s receipts from admissions can't be much higher than the cost of guards and ticket-takers and personnel who are there to make sure admissions are collected. The Museum's most recent financial statement (for the year ending June 30, 2013) reports 15% of revenue from admissions and 16% expenses in "guardianship." However, the City contributes 4% in "guardianship and maintenance" in addition to other contributions, listed and unlisted, such as police officers. Met Reports//~/media/Files/About/Annual Reports/2012_2013/Annual Report 2013.pdf
If a commodity like Art has the double-character of use-value and exchange-value... Marx 1868a.
II. WORKERS' COMP
The new urban poor were an embarrassment to the economic elites of the Northern states. Foner 1971, pp. 23 sqq.
If, as Southerners argued, the freedom in Free Enterprise was no better than slavery... See Fitzhugh 1857
“I must be …. a Socialist Democrat.” Olmsted to Charles Loring Brace, Cumberland River, December 1, 1853. Nashville to Paducah, in Olmsted 1983, 234 sqq.
On Peter Cooper, see Mack 1949. In addition to evening classes in science, the social sciences, drawing and design, the Cooper Union offered a free reading-room and an art gallery that did not charge admission.
Socialism was little more than a turn toward Arminianism. Arminianism: a religious movement that arose in early seventeenth-century Holland as a reaction to the dominant Protestant theory of Predestination. In Colonial America Arminianism had a decisive influence in breaking the dominance of Puritan beliefs through the Great Awakening in the mid-eighteenth century. On Arminianism in general and its application to the problems of urban poverty, see Miller 1965; Williams 1988, pp. 250 sqq; Saxton 2003, p. 47. Homberger 1994, pp. 269-270 writes of the "rich paradoxes" of Olmsted's ethical positions.
If the intention was really to give the poor a chance at fresh air, it would be more efficient to build them houses that actually had, you know, like, windows? Griscom 1853a; quoted Homberger 1994, p. 249.
If those sound like the views of some vegan freak from Harvard it’s because they’re the views ascribed to Olmsted by various Puritans, ecologists and social activists. On "Olmstedism," see Rosenzweig, 1983, p. 128, with extensive scholarly references in note 4, pp. 265-266; see also Rosenzweig and Blackmar, 1992, pp. 136 sqq, and pp. 240-41.
Olmsted and his contemporaries credited the initial inspiration for the Park and its museum to Andrew Jackson Downing... Downing's “A Talk about Public Parks and Gardens,” published in his journal, The Horticulturalist in 1848 was “...the first expression to the want, which everybody at that time felt, for a great Public Park,” according to one of it early boosters, Clarence Cook, quoted Homberger 1994, p. 232; see also Olmsted 1983, p. 84, Downing 2012a.
Andrew Jackson Downing, America’s first landscape architect. Downing was the original designer of the Mall in Washington, DC: it was redesigned in 1935; Downing's version was closer to a genteel English park with carriage drives, very much like the southern portions of Central Park today. (The central portion, with its elaborate iron railings, is closer to Vaux's.) On Downing's debt to European, rather than American, views of social order through the organization of common spaces, see Homberger 1994, 234-37.
Parks, like Art, are a refinement of Nature, not Nature itself. Downing's views had a marked influence on Emerson, specifically the argument that gardening itself was at once metaphor and practice for the improvement of human as well as natural “culture.” See Richardson 1995, pp. 433-35.
“Commemorative... of ... the genius of our highest artists... Open wide, therefore, the doors of your libraries and picture galleries...” Downing 1853, pp. 150-53.
“[Central Park] is of great importance as the first real park made in this country.” Olmsted, Letter to Parke Godwin, August 1, 1858, in Olmsted 1983, p. 201.
On Vaux, see Vaux 1867, “Introduction.” On Emerson, see in particular Emerson 1876a; Rosenzweig's argument (Rosenzweig and Blackmar 1992, pp. 350) that Vaux and Olmsted were “reluctant” to support a museum in the Park is consistently contradicted by the record of their active involvement in the planning of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Likewise, a surprising number of advocates for a free museum in Central Park were habitués of Anne Charlotte Lynch's New York City salon, where Emerson was a visitor.
Vaux instead saw knowledge and experience unfolding in space. Compare to Bryant (and Downing's) conception of the Park's didactic function as static: the visitor is to be educated, not by the process of movement through the Park (as in Vaux and Olmsted), but by the judicious placement of statues of “Great Men.” Homberger 1994, p. 281.
“New York is nobly supplied with Hospitals and Libraries, but she lacks one Institution essential to a great civilized metropolis,—a permanent free Gallery of Art.” Tuckerman 1867, p. 11. Henry Tuckerman was a prolific and popular New York critic and an habitué of Anne Charlotte Lynch's salon, along with William Cullen Bryant.
“A place of public instruction as well as public enjoyment.” The Nation July 27 1865.
“Private vices beget public virtue.” The expression comes from Bernard Mandeville 1723, but it was popularized by Jeremy Bentham. Much of what passes for economic thought (or psychology, or neuroscience) in American centrist media is warmed-over Benthamite utilitarianism. See Bronowski 1960, pp. 436-448.
“The wretched and unchristian spirit of ‘let alone’”—what we’d call today the Free Market. Hale 1857, p. 23. Edward Everett Hale was a popular preacher and writer, and, like Bryant, Emerson and Tuckerman a member of Charlotte Lynch's salon. Like Vaux and Emerson he was much concerned that selection according to natural inclination was being thwarted by selection according to economic status.
The article reads like a public version of Vaux’s and Olmsted’s private correspondence. In a letter of June 5, 1865, written at the same time as the letter to the Nation, Vaux suggested to Olmsted that it was not the economic organization that should determine the value of an aesthetic experience, but the reverse; see Olmsted 1990, p. 385. Vaux himself had previously addressed the question of Government support for the Arts in Downing's journal, The Horticulturalist; see Vaux 1852a.
Andrew Haswell Green, President and Comptroller of the Parks Commission and perhaps the single most influential person in the development and planning of New York City down to this day. According to Hammack 1988a, p. 149, Andrew H. Green conceived of City Planning as a fair and equitable reconciliation of private economic interests through public expenditures, very much according to John Locke. Green argued that honest administration and systematic planning was intended to persuade the citizens to “cheerfully sustain and justify liberal expenditures for the development of the city.” Public Improvements in the City of New York (1874), p. 27; quoted Hammack 1988a, note 50, p. 163 who takes issue with Mandelbaum's argument that Green was allied “with 'reform' groups whose principal concern was the expansion of minority [viz., Republican] power in city politics in order to cut the public budget.” The point was not to cut the public budget but to privatize the collection and administration of public funds. Cultural projects, which were more often promoted by various Republican leagues for “Good Citizenship” and “Civic Virtue,” were just as likely as others to be questioned as pork barrel and graft, and just as likely to be just that. In a particularly amusing example of pre-post-modernist self-referentiality, a statue variously titled as Purity, Our City, and Defeat of Slander was erected in Times Square to affirm the integrity of the very process that made this type of project possible. See Bogart 1989 pp. 235-242.
“The collections should be made by private contributions” and their management “intrusted to intelligent citizens: men of leisure and scientific men.” Andrew Haswell Green, quoted Hammack 1988a, p. 147.
“The class who have the largest pecuniary stake in the good order of the city and who also command its moral forces.” Burrows 1999, p. 928, no source given. See also Saxton 2003, p. 283-4, for a discussion of Methodism's ideological agenda for seeing entrepreneurship as a form of “doing good.”
Barnum, meanwhile, had been working behind the scenes, trying to get articles planted in the papers suggesting that he, Barnum, was the man to run this much-anticipated Museum of the Future. Barnum correspondence with Bayard Taylor, dated July 16 and July 22, 1865, as discussed in Harris 1973, pp. 173, 179. The letters are in the Cornell University Library.
Barnum responded two weeks letter with an elephant-poo-eating letter. The Nation August 10, 1865.
“No effort is made... to induce the presence of the public... ” Bryant 1867.
America has a solid tradition of Government support for the arts. See Banfield 1984; Van Camp, 1998a, Williams, 1992, pp. 188-89, 197. Ironically, Banfield, a prominent neo-liberal political scientist, penned his well-researched pamphlet against Government support for the Arts.
The War of All against All that defines the American view of the role of Government... Locke 1690. For recent critiques of the use of Government Arts agencies to help private institutions establish protectionist monopolies see Mooney 1980, Kostelanetz 1995, etc. See also William Appleman Williams' extensive argument that American economic practices are traditionally mercantilist and protectionist, as opposed to free-market, in Williams 1992, pp. 188-189 and 197; Kennedy 2009, p. 62 makes the interesting argument that prior to the Great Depression, rural and small-town banks in the Midwest were active in setting up museum displays and promoting muralists and decorators: the WPA programs would, then, not have initiated a new interest in art but simply picked up where private enterprise had failed.
Vast programs of civic (or at least, public) sculpture that have enriched New York with buildings, parks, and civic sculpture, and enriched a few New Yorkers on the side. See Bogart 1989.
“To erect, establish, conduct, and maintain in the Central Park in said City of New York... a gallery of art.” New York Legislature, Act of May 11, 1869, Met 1910. The space set aside on the present location had been assigned to a museum as early as the Greensward Plan submitted by Olmsted and Vaux in 1858, but not originally for the exclusive use of an art museum. Howe 1913 is considered the authoritative narrative on the foundation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art: the author was the daughter-in-law of the Met's first president and received extensive support from a number of the initial founders; while her account is somewhat biased toward Joseph Choate's progressive and anti-speculative view (a bias fully shared by this writer), it omits the whole of the nativist narrative which I have presented: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, if one follows Howe's suggestion, sprang full-blown from the minds of a group of wealthy Americans in the Bois de Boulogne on July 4, 1866.
On November 23, 1869 the Art Committee of the Union League Club of New York called a general meeting of the arterati. A much abbreviated report of the speeches is given in Bryant et al. 1869. with some additional material in Howe 1913. A preliminary meeting had been called on October 14; see, Howe 1913, p. 107.
George Fisk Comfort the founder of art-historical education in America, gave the keynote and called for an institution that would “give the best opportunities for cultivating the taste of the poor freely and without cost.” Bryant et al., 1869, p. 15 [14 in the original]. In reviewing the proceedings the Home Journal suggested that the means of access “should be furnished freely.” Bryant et al., 1869, p. 38. Comfort's speech was expanded and published as Comfort 1870.
London’s free, government-supported, worker-oriented South Kensington Museum. See Minihan, 1977, pp. 121 sqq.
“We attach but little value to that which costs us nothing.” W. J. Hoppin, representing the New York-Historical Society, quoted Bryant et al., 1869, p. 27.
Whether those taxes would fall on the population at large or on the real-estate entrepreneurs who had most to benefit from the Park and the Museum... See Homberger 1994, for extensive discussion of the speculative nature of the foundation of Central Park.
“Our nation [is] the richest in the world... ” Bryant et al 1869, p. 8 [7 in the original]. Bryant, like Green, was a “swallowtail Democrat,” so named after the frock-coat worn by the wealthy. Similar suspicions were voiced by Hoppin.
In New York City politics it’s not the Government that needs the money, it’s the money that needs the Government. New York City did not have a regular budget until well into the twentieth century: the usual procedure was to initiate projects as mundane as paving a street or erecting a statue, which then would be repaid in revenue bonds, as opposed to the present system which consists in having the project approved in advance and then building up huge cost overruns; either way, the main source of financing and kickbacks is in the bonds; what Upton Sinclair wrote in 1920 could as easily apply today to New York's transportation system, its library system, etc:
“Mr. [Lincoln] Steffens, you go from city to city and from state to state, and you show us these great corporations buying public privileges and capitalizing them for tens and hundreds of millions of dollars, and unloading the securities upon the general investing public. You show this enormous mass of capital piling up, increasing at compound interest, demanding its toll of dividends, which we, the people who do the hard work of the world, who produce the real wealth of the world, must continue forever to pay.” Sinclair 1920, p. 23.
A “Committee of Thirteen” was chosen and charged with the initial planning of the Museum’s organization and the first draft of its Charter. Listed in Bryant et al 1869, p. 41.
Like many industrialists and politicians of the later nineteenth century in America and in Europe, Choate thought museums, like libraries, could enhance the productivity of labor by improving the smarts, the knowledge and the ambitions of the working class. A few months before the State Legislature voted to approve two publicly supported museums, one for Natural History and the other for Art, The New York Times, February 7, 1869, spoke of the urgent need for a Museum of Science in New York, comparable to the British Museum and South Kensington Museum, and whose purpose would include “the application of science to practical life in the arts and in useful and ornamental inventions... the artistic laying out of public and private grounds.”See also Robertson 1991a, pp. 35-39; Rosenzweig 1983, p. 135.
“The encouragement of artistic handicraft is extremely important, not only from the aesthetic point of view but also from that of political economy, as it brings substantially more money to the common people than does so-called 'High Art' and creates contented folk.” Ernst-Ludwig, Grand-Duke of Hesse, quoted Naylor 1985, 21.
Vaux and Olmsted both sat on the Committee, as well as Henry G. Stebbins, the President of the Central Park Commission. The committee also included the artists Sanford Robinson Gifford and John Quincy Ward, as well as W. J. Hoppin of the New-York Historical Society, who at the initial meeting had spoken strongly in favor of Government oversight.
The Museum's mission is to afford “to our whole people free and ample means for innocent enjoyment." Howe 1913, p. 122 defines the text as a “provisional constitution.”
“Solely animated with a zeal for the interests of Art.” Dr. Henry W. Bellows, letter of January 7, 1870, quoted Howe 1913 ,p. 121.
January 17, 1870 was to be the first, the official, the founding meeting of the “Association [...] organized under the name of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” The Charter (or "Constitution"] was approved by the Legislature on April 13, 1870 (Laws of 1870, Chapter 197 (Charter, Constitution, p. 36 [39 in the original]) The Meeting of May 24, 1870 was subsequently designated the “First Annual Meeting of the Corporation after Incorporation.” Charter Constitution, p. 69 [75 in the original].
“It did not appear. [...] that any one present had a clear idea of [...] where the funds are to come from.” New York Times, January 19, 1870.
The “money capitalists,” as they were called. Massachusetts economist Amasa Walker, at the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1853, quoted Foner 1971, p. 22.
The Supreme Court ruled that if states have the right to fund whatever corporations they want, they also have the right to regulate them. In Munn v. Illinois, 1876.
“The whole concept of government saying to a nonprofit, ‘We’re going to tell you how to spend the charitable dollars you have received,’ flies in the face of American history and democracy.” Adrian Benepe, former Parks Commissioner, quoted Powell 2014a.
On January 31 a slate of officers was chosen over the plutocrats. Hoppin and Stebbins were elected Trustees of the Museum against an opposing slate. Olmsted, Choate and the sculptor John Quincy Ward were elected to the Executive Committee. Vaux was not included.
“There is a large class of objects... of inestimable value toward the formation of sound taste in Art...” quoted Howe 1913 p. 130. The writers were cautioning that the so-called “encyclopedic museum” still beloved of the Trustees need not be an excuse for massive expenditures.
Within a year, and with a bit of advice from the speculator James Jackson Jarves, the Times had grasped the concept of art as capital and the museum’s function as one of permanent accumulation. Jarves (whose name is misquoted by the Times on January 19, 1870), was to become a regular contributor and commentator on art speculation; see, for instance New York Times, February 14, 1871.
In 1866, at a Fourth-of-July picnic in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris... Howe 1913, p. 100. Howe relies on John Jay's own recollection in a letter addressed to Museum Director Luigi di Cesnola of August 30, 1890. Cesnola was the aggressive leader of the Speculator Faction at the Museum.
The Chair of the Art Committee found their plans “objectionable” and “not to be commended for their wisdom.” G. P. Putnam, quoted Bryant et al., 1869, p. 4 [p. 33 in the original].
For years American artists had complained to the US Congress about the dumping of European art and artists on the American market—the original Eurotrash. Miller, 1966, pp. 82-83.
S. Robinson Gifford, who served on the “Committee of Thirteen” and had earlier signed a petition protesting the marginalization of American artists by foreign competition, saw his name removed from the list of Founding Trustees and his paintings blacklisted; other American artists suffered the same indignity. Whittredge, 1966, p. 62. Ironically, a painting by Gifford owned by the Union League Club spectacularly failed to sell at auction in 2013. Stewart 2013a.
A decade later, when tariffs were finally raised on imported art... Jarves, 1880a.
The Met’s monopolistic hostility to living local artists would become legend. Museum Director Cesnola (a man not endowed with a sense of irony) once complained that local artists saw the Museum as “a kind of marketplace where their works were to be sold at exorbitant prices and permanently exhibited as their professional advertisement.” Burrows, 1999, p. 1082.
The Museum has never dropped its habit of buying overpriced, often doubtful “Masters” on the trustee’s speculative recommendations, or buying out the trustee’s own mistakes. As early as March of 1871, the Museum Association had raised close to 250,000 dollars in donations, all of which was earmarked for acquisitions. One of the earlier acquisitions was the Avery Collection of porcelain, belonging to a museum trustee. See New York Times, March 15, 1871, April 16, 1879.
By July of 1871 the Governorship, as well as a sizable portion of the Legislature, were in the sticky hands of Boss Tweed. On July 5, 1871 New York’s State Legislature gave the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Public Parks in New York City the responsibility to negotiate a lease with the Museum. (“Act in relation to the powers and duties of the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Public Parks,” April 5, 1871, Chapter 290 of the Laws of 1871, New York State Legislature, Albany. Charter Constitution, p. 37 [p. 40 in the original].) This Act is still in place, giving New York City's Mayor and City Council absolute authority to negotiate the terms of free admissions.
Bogart 1989, note 7, pp. 351-352 gives a synopsis of the official story: that it was Tweed, not the Trustees, who “hoped (unsuccessfully) to profit on construction by convincing the trustees to build a much more expensive and elaborate structure. He thus agreed to get legislative approval to have Metropolitan's new building... constructed on municipal property along with city money.” The trustees and Republican elites had the same goals: Following the economic crash of 1857-58, control of the Park and its lucrative patronage system had been a pawn in the struggles between local populist Democrats and the oligarchs (both Republican and Democrat) entrenched in the State Legislature. Olmsted himself had brought into the Parks project as a non-partisan compromise between the two sides. Homberger 1994, p. 271 sqq.
Likewise,Howe 1913, pp. 137-38, suggests that Tweed was persuaded to approve the deal by the fact that the petition brought by the trustees had been signed by an overwhelming number of New York real-estate speculators. Her suggestion that oversight of the building's construction and maintenance costs were handed over to the Parks Commissioner as a concession to Tweed (rather than as a means to exercise some control over a corporation attempting to set up a private-public partnership) is without foundation: Recent historiography has argued that the differences between popular Democratic corruption and elite Republican self-serving in New York City were only a matter of degree. The major difference was, that the Tweed Ring (and the Democrats in general) posed as the guarantors of the rights of the lower classes, even in respect to park use: as today, these rights revolved around free access, as well equal treatment and funding for New York City parks in less-favored neighborhoods. See also Rosenzweig, 1992, pp. 354-55.
When in February of 1872 the Museum first opened in rented quarters, admission was free—by application to the elite. Howe, 1913, 148. This system had been in effect in New York City art museums and collections since the early years of the nineteenth century; it was much resented. It was also a throwback to the practices of Old Regime France where admission, too, was free, but informally restricted according to the perceived worthiness of the applicant. See McClellan 1994, p. 9.
Even before the Museum was built the Trustees began to charge for admission to their temporary quarters “for the rent and other necessary expenses of exhibiting collections which would be virtually free to the people.” Howe 1913, p. 162. In 1873 the State Legislature voted to authorize the Parks Department to allocate $15,000, this time raised through a tax levy. ( “Laws of 1873, Chapter 756. An Act to Make Further Provision for the Payment of Further Expenses of the Local Government of the City of New York,” June 13, 1873. Charter, Constitution, p. 38 [p. 41 in the original].
.50 cents or about twice the hourly wage of a plumber. Based on Derks 1999, p. 12.
No one came; they cut the price to .25 cents. Howe 1913, p. 164 claims two-thirds of the people who came on pay-days simply walked away. In any case a good portion of the attendance on paying days came from complimentary tickets to students and teachers.
In April of 1876, as the building approached completion, the Legislature formally designated the Parks Department... “An Act in Relation to the Powers and Duties of the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Public Parks in Connection with the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art April 22, 1876, Chapter 139 of the Laws of 1876” [“Lease Enabling Statute”]. Charter, Constitution, pp. 38-40 pp. [41-42 in the original].
[Olmsted] wrote to the Parks Commissioners outlining the contract he hoped to see negotiated between the Parks and the Museum. “To the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Public Parks, January 2, 1878,” Olmsted 2007, pp. 359.
He later wrote a bitter pamphlet accusing the Commissioners of playing politics. Olmsted, 1882a, p. 608.
The Museum did not belong in the Park after all, though perhaps for moral, rather than aesthetic reasons: with Olmsted it’s hard to tell the two apart. According to Homberger, Olmsted, faced with the practical problems of administering the Park, gradually shifted from the predominantly economic and Calvinist attitude that the Park should not be used as a means of improving the economic well-being of the unemployed, to a more liberal, Arminian and perhaps even Methodist belief that the Park might offer “to citizens of every class an elevating vision of nourishment and civility.” Homberger 1994, p. 274
Finally, on June 3 the State Legislature authorized the Commissioners to negotiate a lease with the Museum. “An Act to Provide Means for the Equipment and Furnishing of that Building Erected on that Portion of the Central Park, in the City of New York, East of the Old Reservoir [...] for the Purposes of a Museum and Gallery of Art, and for Removing Thereto and Establishing Therein the Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Laws of 1878 Chapter 385, June 3. The 1871 Act and 1878 Act together form the “Museum Establishment Legislation.” Charter, Constitution, p. 39 [p. 42 in the original].
On Christmas Day, 1878 a perpetual lease was signed between the Museum and the Parks Department. The lease reads in part:
That the exhibit halls of [the Museum] Building shall on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of each week, and on all legal and public holidays except Sundays, be kept open and accessible to the public free of charge from ten o’clock AM until half an hour before sunset. [Art. Fourthly,
Lease of the Museum Buildings, in Charter, Constitution, pp. 30-34 [31-35 in the original].
The lease does state that if its conditions are not met “it shall be lawful” for the Parks Department to give six months notice to vacate. I can’t wait for the fire sale. ibid, p. 34 in the original.
“Leave my cane! Leave my cane! Then how do you expect me to poke holes through the oil paintings!” Rosenzweig, 1992, p. 359.
“I should like to know... why it is that the Museum at Central Park is kept closed on Sundays as if to exclude the working classes.” Quoted in Rosenzweig, 1995, p. 359.
“But now that art belongs to the people, and has become their best resource and most efficient educator...” March 30, 1880; quoted Howe, 1913, p. 200.
The Trustees... had taken “especial satisfaction... in observing the number of artisans who visit the Museum.” Annual Reports, p. 78; that year the attendance on free days averaged 577, or over ten times the attendance on paying days. Or again: “This class of our citizens are among our most sturdy and studious visitors.” Annual Reports, p. 68; or once again: “On that [free] day the attendance of those of our citizens who are not able to pay for admission has been large and constant.” Annual Reports, p. 52. John Taylor Johnston, President of the Board of Trustees, suggested that the Museum had begun to serve as a model in America for a Kensington-type of museum geared toward the working class.
In 1892 the State Legislature ordered the Museum to be open, free, seven days a week except for Sunday mornings, plus two evenings a week... See “An Act to Authorize Further Appropriation for the Maintenance of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Central Park of the City of New York.” New York State Legislature, Chapter 419 of the Laws of 1892. May 2, 1892. Charter, Constitution, p. 48 [51 in the original]. Sunday closings were thought to be a hardship for working people: by ordering the Museum to open on Sunday afternoons the Legislature was taking a stand against the “Blue Laws” that even today make it illegal to buy liquor on Sunday mornings in New York City.
The Legislature compromised, allowed two days’ closing and handed out some more cash “in consideration of being free.” An Act to Amend Chapter Four Hundred and Nineteen of the Laws of Eighteen Hundred and Ninety Two [...], Chapter 476 of the Laws of 1893, April 24. Charter, Constitution, p. 51 [54 in the original],
The Museum’s Annual Report for that year includes a response to the Legislature, a miracle of frustrated greed and raging incoherence. Marquand 1892a, p. 543. The Legislature did allow for moneys to be used “for the keeping, preservation and exhibition of the collections,” but not for acquisitions.
Early American jurisprudence loosely recognized two types of “voluntary associations:” public-serving and member-serving. Arnsberger 2008a.
By 1941 the Met had thrown in the towel and made itself free and open to all, seven days a week. By then average Museum attendance on Days of the Unfree was no more than a quarter of what it was on free days; make that one eighth, since half of the attendance was complimentary admissions to students and teachers. Howe 1946, pp. 49-50.
“Now they think the Museum is a public institution, in the management of which the public has a voice.” William Cowper Prime, Founding Trustee, quoted in Tomkins 1989, p. 77.
“Persons in the picture galleries blowing their nose with their fingers.... spitting tobacco juice on the gallery floors.” Tomkins 1989, p. 84. No source given.
III. THE PENETRALIA
“It is to be observed, I think, that the people walk there more or less under the shadow of the right waited for and conceded.”... “most irrepressible little democrats of the democracy.”... “graceful common life” James 1907, 7: Boston. Chapter III.
“[The Metropolitan Museum of Art] spoke with a hundred voices of that huge process of historic waste that the place in general keeps putting before you; but showing it in a light that drew out the harshness or the sadness, the pang, whatever it had seemed elsewhere, of the reiterated sacrifice to pecuniary profit. For the question here was to be of the advantage to the spirit, not to the pocket; to be of the aesthetic advantage involved in the wonderful clearance to come. From the moment the visitor takes in two or three things—first, perhaps, the scale on which, in the past, bewildering tribute has flowed in; second, the scale on which it must absolutely now flow out; and, third, the presumption created by the vivacity of these two movements for a really fertilizing stir of the ground—he sees the whole place as the field of a drama the nearer view of the future course of which he shall be sorry to lose. One never winces after the first little shock, when Education is expensive—one winces only at the expense which, like so much of the expense of New York, doesn't educate; and Education, clearly, was going to seat herself in these marble halls—admirably prepared for her, to all appearance—and issue her instructions without regard to cost. The obvious, the beautiful, the thrilling thing was that, without regard to cost either, they were going to be obeyed: that inference was somehow irresistible, the disembodied voices I have spoken of quite forcing it home and the palace roof arching to protect it as the dome of the theatre protects the performance.” James 1907, 4: “New York, Social Notes.” Chapter V.
A widespread sense among the cultured that Culture itself was contagious. Frank 2009a.
What would later be called the Affirmative Character of Culture.Marcuse 2007a.
“Whether this or any portion of [the] Park belongs to a class or to the whole people.” Quoted Williams 2005a, p. 4. Unattributed source.
“The whole scope of the essay is to recommend culture as the great help out of our present difficulties; culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world.” Arnold 1869, p 233. Arnold's theory owes something to Christian Wilhelm von Dohm’s recommendation, in 1781, that Jews raise themselves to the level of Christian Civilization through Bildung.
Arnold’s influence on American educational theories has been incalculable. E.g. “A renaissance that seeks to teach the best that has been thought and known and done in every field of endeavor.” Ravitch 2010, p. 224. In 1862 Arnold took a strong position against his immediate superiors in the British Education Office over plans for a “payment by results” system for state-subsidized primary schools.
“The disciplines of respect, the feeling for what is elevated.” Arnold 1888, p. 361.
“My view of the museum is that it gives you an opportunity to revel in the fact that other beings have surpassed you...” Philippe de Montebello, quoted Kramer 2006a, p. 12.
“The remarkable behavior of the crowd...” Carnegie 1894a, pp. 421-22; Carnegie refers to Arnold explicitly, and implicitly as well with a reference to the supposedly non-materialistic (or rather, non cash-centered) values that the organization of the cultural experience was supposed to provide.
James thought the future of American culture would be decided, not in a pricey museum façade but in the immigrant cafés of the Lower East Side.
James 1907, “New York and the Hudson,” Chapter III.
Or, as Bourdieu did say: through Culture one discovers oneself as embodied capital. Bourdieu 1986a; the concept of embodied capital, only rarely used by Bourdieu, is crucial for an understanding of the dynamics of Culture under capital; it goes very nicely with Foucault's concept of a technique de soi, itself virtually indistinguishable from Mauss's concept of habitus:
« Les « techniques de soi », c’est-à-dire les procédures, comme il en existe sans doute dans toute civilisation, qui sont proposées ou prescrites aux individus pour fixer leur identité, la maintenir ou la transformer en fonction d’un certain nombre de fins, et ceci grâce à des rapports de maîtrise de soi sur soi ou de connaissance de soi par soi. » Foucault 1989, pp. 133-4. See also Mauss 2002a; Elias 1978, and Marx and Engels' critique of Stirner's anarchism (Marx Engels 1970, pp. 108-109) as the spontaneous production of the individual by the individual.
Marx had dismissed as a cruel joke Carey’s idea that the workers could be turned into capitalists through hard work and dedication, with a little push from their middle-class friends. Marx 1993, p. 580. See also Foner 1971, p. 26 for Horace Greeley's vision of workers as “nascent capitalists.” On the complicity of culture in worker's education see Marx 1875a, pp. 30 sqq; Lynes 1949, pp. 157-158 tells a curious story of attempts to organize an art exposition on the Lower East Side of Manhattan as an attempt to co-opt the“Socialists.”
Arnold took up the Marxist truism that the petite bourgeoisie is the class whose interests lie with the lower classes but whose aspirations lie with the upper, and flipped it. On Arnold's vision of the organization of the State around Culture as a substitute for its disorganization around competing class interests, see: Trilling 1977, pp. 251-52, 275-76.
“All that was harsh, uncouth, difficult, abstract, professional, exclusive.” Arnold 1869, p. 113, in the chapter titled “Sweetness and Light.”
“Simplicity, realism, comprehensibility.” Quoted Fitzpatrick 1992, p. 188. Zhdanov was Joseph Stalin's Culture Czar.
Culture, Arnold insisted, “seeks to do away with classes.” Arnold 1869, p. 113.
“Transubstantiated.” The expression is frequently used by Bourdieu.
“The right of the public to admission without pay [...] rests on deep foundations.” “Works of fine art are indeed goods that can be bought and sold...” Gilman 1918, pp. 386, 388.
“Didactic Bias,” “the belief that the value of everything and in particular the value of fine art, is chiefly its instructive value.” Gilman 1918, p. 103 sqq.
The “socially active, transformative” mission of museums. Duncan, 2001a, p. 131. Socially active the museum may have been, as envisioned by Charles Cotton Dana of the Newark Museum; but Duncan herself admits that there was nothing transformative about it: the purpose of the Newark Museum's social activity was to align the working class more closely with the interests of the local factory owners.
As a pre-eminent ethnographer... The hostility toward Gilman is based on the curious fantasy (common in the American art-historical profession) that a focus on the formal qualities of artworks must perforce imply an indifference to the social context in which they are produced and shown. On the contrary, Gilman understood that the appreciation of the formal qualities of artworks may be part and parcel of an appreciation of the social context in which such formal qualities are made comprehensible: as a young man he had assisted the anthropologist Franz Boas in recording samples of Native American music; he subsequently argued, against those who believed that this music was formally defective by Eurocentric standards, that Native American musicians had their own, socially determined standards of pitch.
According to Tönnies, any one culture could be situated between the twin conceptual poles of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft or, as translated, Community and Association. See Tönnies 2001.
Tönnies thought America had swung further toward Gesellschaft than any other country. Gutman 1977, the historian of American labor, warns (pp. 16-17 and notes) of “the many pitfalls that follow implicit or explicit acceptance of what the anthropologist Clifford Geertz calls 'the theoretical dichotomies of classical sociology—Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft...'” The issue, as Geertz well understood, concerns the appropriateness or inappropriateness of the examiner's embrace of the subjectivity of his or her subjects: whether “our formulation is actor-oriented.... Descriptions of Berber, Jewish, or French culture must be cast in terms of the constructions we imagine Berbers, Jews, or Frenchmen to place upon what they live through.” (Geertz 1973, pp. 14-15.). I am suggesting here that Tönnies' influence on American sociological thought was due to its subjective adequacy: his approach closely matched certain ways of thinking about Society that were already widespread in America, notably the strong dialectic of economic and non-economic transactions. Bender 1982 confirms the appropriateness of Tönnies' scheme to an analysis of American society in the nineteenth century without closing the loop and discussing the ways in which Americans themselves may have contributed to the distinction. Just as Marx believed that America was the country closest to Socialism, Tönnies called America which he visited in 1905, “the most modern Gesellschaft-type state.” Tönnies 2001, 243.
Emerson [...] recommended that artworks should be held in common in order to “draw the bonds of neighborhood closer.” Emerson 1876a.
Because the more there are who there say Ours... Dante, Purgatorio XV:
Che per quanti si dice piu li nostro
Tanto possiede piu di ben ciascuno.
E come specchio l'una all'altro rende.
Quoted Gilman 1918, p. 387.
It, too, is a form of coercion involving relationships of power that are specific to any given culture. cf. Hans Kelsen, for whom Power is “the efficacy of the coercive order recognized as law.” Quoted Francis 1985a, p. 69.
Systems of reciprocity and exchange are radically altered when price is introduced as the absolute standard of value. Marx 1867, Vol. I, I, Section 4. See Balibar 1968a, Green 2010a. In an apparent contradiction of Marx's Transformation Theory, Mauss 1924a concludes that this form of fetishism may be described, mutatis mutandis in the same manner whether it affects “primitive” economies or merchant and capitalist economies, meaning cultures in which “instead of economy being embedded in social relations, social relations are embedded in the economic system.” (Polanyi 1944, p. 57); whereas Titmuss 1971, pp. 209-213 argues that Tönnies, unlike Mauss and Lévi-Strauss, drew a distinction between the two forms of exchange. Cf. the essentialist theory of museum admission fees proposed by Jean Clair, former museum director and member of the Académie Française : “Je trouve assez étonnant qu'en ce début de XXIe siècle, notre société ait oublié certaines lois fondamentales de l'esprit humain, en particulier celle de l'« échange symbolique » en vertu de laquelle, pour participer à un événement social, y compris à une exposition, il faut acquitter un droit. Cette loi fonctionne depuis des millénaires. Pourquoi en serions-nous libérés? ” (Cro-Magnon Man had museums with paying admission? Who knew?) Further on, Clair, to the question, whether he might be called an elitist, responds: “J'ai passé une bonne partie de ma vie à donner des cours, à animer des séminaires, à mettre sur pied des outils pédagogiques avec la plus grande générosité,” which strongly suggests his inability to grasp the difference between services rendered as a form of payment and services rendered as an obligation that enforces and defines social relationships. As Wood 1991 has pointed out, capitalism in France has never shaken off its dependency on pre-capitalist (feudal) social relations.
“For a museum of art to sell the right of admission conflicts with the essential nature of its contents.” Gilman 1918, p. 388.
That love of God which, according to Aquinas moves every irrespective of social constraints or ignorance. Aquinas 1945, pp. 41, 1115-16, etc. Gilman, may be following the strong upsurge in Thomistic thought in the first half of the Twentieth Century: his argument is affected, first, by the Thomistic thesis on the conflict of Usury and Societas, and second, by its view of the the relationship of “pure form” to the arts in their social function. See Lucki 1963, p. 108 and Hochman 1989, p. 22.
Works of fine art are indeed goods that can be bought and sold. Gilman 1918, pp. 387-88.
The “didactic” function of museums is, too, a form of coercion even if, according to some, it’s coercion of the right kind.
“If power were never anything but repressive, if it never did anything but to say no, do you really think one would be brought to obey it? What makes power hold good, what makes it accepted, is simply the fact that it doesn't only weigh on us as a force that says no, but that it traverses and produces things, it induces pleasure, forms knowledge, produces discourse. It needs to be considered as a productive network which runs through the whole social body, much more than as a a negative instance whose function is repression.” Foucault 1980f, p. 119.
Just as the capitalist dreams up the “economic law of motion” that explains why people buy stuff. Marx 1867, “Preface to the First German Edition.”
“Si l'échange est nécessaire et s'il n'est pas donné, il faut donc le construire. Comment ? En appliquant aux corps isolés, seuls présents, une source d'énergie qui opère leur synthèse. « On peut... prouver que dans les choses échangées... il y a une vertu qui force les dons à circuler, à être donnés, à être rendus. » Mais c'est ici que la difficulté commence.” Lévi-Strauss 1950a, III.
Aquinas invents a Love of God that justifies all human desires.” See the brief historical overview of Philosophical Absolutism in Kelsen 1960a. Kelsen argues that to define volition outside of individual subjects is to turn one's back on democratic autonomy.
Prescription as description; ought as is. Cf, in Kelsen 1991, “Is and Ought.”
It’s assumed the visitor is a “rational actor,” a sujet supposé vouloir driven to the museum, the church the Party or the job fair by whatever needs and motives the museum, the Marxist, the theologian or the capitalist defines for him, a subject for the object. See Marx 1857, “Introduction:” “The object of art like every other product creates a public which is sensitive to art and enjoys beauty. Production thus not only creates an object for the subject, but also a subject for the object. Thus production produces consumption (1) by creating the material for it; (2) by determining the manner of consumption; and (3) by creating the products, initially posited by it as objects, in the form of a need felt by the consumer.”
“This doctrine must, therefore, divide society into two parts, one of which is superior to society.” Marx 1845, III.
The major difference lies in the quality of the imputed rationale: non-economic in a pre-capitalist societies, non-economic and economic at once in a market economy. On economic and extra-economic forms of extraction of capital, see Wood 2002. For a discussion of the overdetermination of modes in Marx 1857, “Introduction,” see Althusser 1968a, p. 64 sqq.; see also Kelsen 1991 for an outline of the social functions of norms: Commanding, Permitting, Empowering, Derogating.
The right kind of New Yorker is the one who pays for her museum visit, whatever the reason stated. Wood, 2002, pp. 53, 58. Wood joins with Bourdieu to suggest that the participants in those activities do not simply act to reproduce themselves as they are (“social reproduction”) but as they wish to be within a potentially changing set of constraints.
That social divisions are not divisions of class at all, enforced by education and economics, but voluntary ones along the lines of cultural interests. See, for instance, Lynes 1949, 310-341; Bourdieu 1979.
It’s a commonplace of American thought that certain people—immigrants, the Irish, Jews, Italians, blacks—are less adept at Culture than wealthy Anglo-Saxons. On “elite nativism”, See Gutman 1977, viz. p. 72, Foner 1971, p. 30, etc. Other anecdotal evidence in Ellison 1977a, Sennett 2003, p. 18, etc.
The time will come when Harpo makes a harp out of piano strings. “The Marx Brothers, who... in a most estimable piece of refined entertainment, break up a grand piano in order to take possession of its strings in their frame as the true harp of the future.” Adorno 1978a, p. 314.
Enter Joe Papp, a communist in the great American tradition. For Papp's relationship to the Communist Party, his ideals of communism, and the “Battle of Central Park” I am indebted to Epstein 1994, based on extensive interviews with Papp and others; see pp 16-17, 65, 121 and 486 where the author takes issue with Robert Caro's argument(Caro 1974) that the struggle between Papp and Robert Moses was a personal misunderstanding without deeper ideological stakes.
Following a distinction common in the later nineteenth century, Tönnies had described the tension between the ideals of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft as the tension between communism and socialism. The distinction is present in Justinian's Digest, which followed Roman Law in distinguishing communio, collective property, from societas, individual property. It was revived by the German historian Theodor Mommsen in 1870 and appears to have become common in American social thought shortly thereafter: see for example Nordhoff 1875, “Introduction,” pp. 11-22. Bercovitch 1990a has argued that Emerson himself gradually developed a hostility toward “socialism” in later life, but does not consider that the meaning of the term had changed radically in the meantime. Emerson and his circle are known to have been deeply influenced by the “socialism” of Fourier and others, which would properly be called “communism,” and is certainly Gemeinschaft-oriented. The distinction between Fourier's theories and the Socialism of the Second Internationale is the same distinction drawn by Tönnies between communism and socialism; it's close to a distinction Marx himself drew in a letter to Arnold Ruge of September, 1843; see Marx 1975a, p. 207. Gutman and I would ultimately agree that America's tradition of Gemeinschaft (or “Communism”) was thought by its nativist theoreticians to be antithetical to the Gesellschaft-oriented (or “Socialist”) values of the new immigrants: in effect, the distinction was used to hierarchise “native” Gemeinschaft in opposition to “foreign” Gesellschaft—ironic, considering the debt owed by Emerson and others to Owen and Fourier. On culture as a form of hierarchisation see Balibar 1997, pp. 39-40.
“Just plain people, working men and shopkeepers.” Papp, quoted in Flagler 1957a, pp. 60.
“I believe... that it is of the utmost importance to have a public theater—a theater for everybody—yes, everybody...” Quoted in Kerr 1958b.
There is a discrepancy between “free,” as in: universally available, and “free,” as in: not entailing costs; as Emerson pointed out, only the wealthy can afford to ignore the difference. Emerson, 1876a. Howe 2007, n. 47, p. 40 confirms that the word “freedom” in Early nineteenth-century America does not designate freedom from demands or needs but “agency,” meaning the ability to act in pursuit of goals. This is similar to the Marxist understanding of Freedom, per Lukes, 1983a. However, Howe refers back to Block 2002, who argues that from early on this particular form of “freedom” was, in American culture, assigned to certain individuals over others; Emerson and his circle were no more willing to grant this to recent Irish immigrants than, say, Southern planters to their slaves: the Western pioneer, the wildcat entrepreneur and the leader of the Vanguard Party are sisters under the skin.
When Papp had first approached the Parks Department over use of the bandshell in Corlears Hook.... Then Papp moved to set up Free Shakespeare for the rich and poor alike in Central Park... Papp should take his show back to the slums and charge admission there. Epstein 1994, pp. 137-141.
Free Shakespeare in Central Park, Moses claimed, would attract “muggers, degenerates and pickpockets.” Caro 1974, p. 1032.
The difference is, that for Moses the social structure to be reshaped would be rigidly hierarchical. See for example Foderaro 2014a.
The pre-eminent theater critic Walter Kerr explained that people don’t genuinely appreciate a performance unless they pay for it. Kerr 1958a.
Charging for admission would put Free Shakespeare in the same category as a highly capitalized and speculative Broadway production. Epstein 1994, p. 92:
“[Papp's] theater... took as its model such institutions as the New York Public Library... At the band concerts he had attended as a child there were no assigned seats, no ticket-takers, no admission fee... At the Actors' Lab, Roman Bohnen had talked about... a theater to which money was irrelevant.... 'I wanted to reach audiences who might never have seen a play before and who were unable or unwilling to pay...'.” Papp seems to have imbibed some of his notions of communism from Bohnen, a co-founder of the Actors Lab, which was closed down as a Communist Front Organization.
“I am trying to build our theater on the bedrock of municipal and civic responsibility.” Quoted Kerr 1958b.
Charges of Communism—or, as Papp came to believe, of communist thinking. Epstein 1994, p. 125.
The Myth of American Liberalism holds that McCarthyism was marginal to the American political process because ideologies that offer resistance to capital are themselves marginal.
“The major political traditions have shared a belief in the rights of property, the philosophy of economic individualism, the value of competition; they have accepted the economic virtues of capitalist culture as necessary qualities of man...” Hofstadter 1989, p. xxxvii, “Introduction.”
Those who “keep hunting for the Zeitgeist in order to submit to its command.” Rosenberg 1962a, p. 245.
“The faculty’s own screening methods are more effective than any loyalty oath. Fellow travelers, far more dangerous than admitted Communists...” Prof. Wendell Meredith Stanley, quoted New York Times, Thursday, Mar 2, 1950. Stanley was a biochemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for research that was shown shortly afterward to be “incorrect.”
“An irresponsible Commie.” Epstein 1994, p. 158. Robert Moses had never shied from red-smearing his opponents; Arthur Constable, Moses' deputy commissioner and point-man in this affair, responded to the accusation of red-baiting Papp: “What’s wrong with McCarthy?” see Epstein 1994, 147-148; Caro 1974, p. 1033.
“Produce[d] and supervise[d] for the purpose of influencing sympathy toward communism.” Rep. Moulder, quoted HUAC, p. 2556.
“There is no suggestion here... that Shakespeare was a Communist. That is ludicrous and absurd.” Richard Ahrens, quoted HUAC, p. 2556. The transcript of the HUAC hearing shows the Subcommittee Chair, Rep. Morgan M. Moulder of Missouri, introducing the proceedings by questioning Papp at length about the funding for the Shakespeare Festival, then interrupting the Staff Director, Richard Ahrens, to return to the issue. See HUAC, esp. 2550, 2558.
In New York the communitarian spirit was remarkably resilient in the face of postwar capitalist Gleichschaltung; High Culture at low cost played an important role in progressive politics. This is the thesis proposed by Joshua B. Freeman 2000, pp. 55, 37, 72 sqq., 93. For a similar analysis of Chicago's own struggles to preserve the democratization of culture, see Dyja 2013, esp. p. 244.
“Setting a sound precedent that might be followed by others.” Quoted, Epstein 1994, p. 155.
A disbelieving judge, not caring to be wise to the contradictory forms of capitalization, noted the capriciousness of a Governmental agency trying to bully and bribe a not-for-profit into charging admission in the public interest. Judge J. McNally for the Appellate Division of New York State, June 17, 1959. Epstein 1994, p. 153.
The rarefied oxygen of capital. “Ein besonder Aether." Marx 1857, "Introduction." For a sharp explanation of this particular understanding of the relationship of base and superstructure by way of Althusser, see Harrington 1976, pp. 60-82.
In Europe the traditional feudal hierarchies have not disappeared, they’ve reconfigured themselves in their relationship to capital. Wood 1991.
A certain Professor Veblen’s shocked—shocked!—to discover that those who live off capital, not labor, use art and culture to establish their superiority over us mere gruntproducers. Adorno 1967a.
“Here class opposes class in an extremely naked way.” Quoted, Betz 1982, p. 143.
“A vast and unparalleled... propaganda machine.” Rep. Jay Parnell Thomas, 1939. U. S. House 1939, p. 9. Thomas was eventually convicted and jailed for defrauding the Government.
They oppose the particular concept of Culture being promoted and the diversion of Government funds to prop up a Culture of the wrong kind. See, for instance, Mooney 1980.
By making parks and museums accessible to all without respect to their imputed qualifications, the State could remove the stigma that discouraged the stigmatized from participating in society as equals. See for example Titmuss 1974.
“Bettering our condition, a desire which, though generally calm and dispassionate comes with us from the womb.” Smith 1776, II.3.28.
“A democracy in cupidity rather than a democracy in fraternity.” Hofstadter 1989, p. xxxvii, “Introduction.”
In 1942 Gunnar Myrdal noted among African Americans a type he called the Exaggerated American. Myrdal 1962, p. 952. I am following the positive interpretation of the expression given by the Civil Rights leader Bayard Rustin in Rustin 1965a.
“A frenzy of arrogance and nihilism.” Moynihan 1967a, p.32.
What invading Hyde Park had been to Arnold, the sit-ins, marches and blackout looting were to the liberal elite: not directed at political or economic goals, but embodied in the psyches of the protagonists themselves. See Bell 1976, p. 12, with specific reference to Arnold.
“An era of bad manners is almost certainly begun.” Moynihan 1967a, p. 45. A reference to the "Broken Window Theory" of James Q. Wilson, who had endorsed Moynihan as his successor for a prestigious position at Harvard. See Patterson 2010, pp. 97-98.
Whether this had been done out of resentment of the anticipated show, and where this resentment came from, was not clear. The paintings were discovered to have been defaced before or during the gala opening. (Schoener 1995, n. p.) The paintings were marked with a letter H some time before or during the gala opening. Hoving 1993, pp. 169-170 implies that the person responsible may have been an adult, and knowledgeable enough to scratch the paintings without causing serious damage; he also suspects that the H may have been stood for himself, not for Harlem: the Museum personnel and trustees deeply resented the show.
Like many outreach programs of the ‘sixties and 'seventies, Harlem on My Mind went beyond accessibility. From my own memory, the display gave a whiff and a half of the coercive: even without knowing that the sound and visual loops were planned to keep the audience moving through the galleries at a continuous pace, one might have guessed it at the time: “We assigned a time factor to each gallery...” Allon Schoener, the organizer, in Schoener 1995, n. p.
Black attendance was not simply high, it was also remarkably tilted toward the black working class. Schoener 1995, n. p., quoting the [African-American] Chairman of the City's Human Rights Commission, writes that about 15% of the attendees on opening day were black; I attended much later; I recall well over 50%.
The Times had “cultivated a rising hysteria” against the Civil Rights Movement. Branch 2006, p. 532 and passim.
The Times dictate[d] how the exhibition w[ould] be represented.“We're in trouble. This story [in the New York Times] dictates how the exhibition will be represented by the media from this point.” Martha Wallace, executive director of the Henry Luce Foundation, a major sponsor of the show, quoted in Schoener 1995, n. p.. Subsequent articles in the Times were equally destructive: although written by different contributors, they shared the mindset that was a condition for employment at a while liberal newspaper in the first place: As John Canaday (Canaday 1969a) and Hilton Kramer (Kramer 1969a) explained in separate articles, any show that concerned African Americans must, by definition, be sociological and not High Cultural, and therefore did not belong, by definition, in the Museum.
Manipulating class and cultural divisions within the black community. Ironically, black cultural elites objected that Harlem on my Mind was too “sociological,” that it focused on black people as entertainment, not on the cultural achievements of black people. Hoving and Schoener attempted to rectify the situation by planning a second show of black artists at the Met; but since, by the rules of the game there could be only one kind of black experience, and since by definition blacks were alien to High Culture, the plan fell through. On the encouragement of “factional competition” see Piven & Cloward 1971, pp. 275-6.
NAS (Negro Atrocity Stories): term used in Woodward 1966, p. 86.
Even Saddam Hussein was brought up. Hoving 1993, p. 175.
“Creative confrontation:” Schoener had advised the teen-aged author to paraphrase Moynihan and Glazer's book, and to remove the footnote so that the statement might seem to be her own. Hoving in turn had fabricated for the catalog a narrative of tensions between himself and his own family's fictional black help while growing up. Neither was adverse to manufacturing an image of angry or resentful blacks. Schoener 1995, n. p.
As Hoving surmised, Sulzberger and others had bigger catfish to fry. Hoving 1993, p. 174.
A way of distinguishing the new collections now opened up to the People from the private collections of monarchs and millionaires. McClellan 1994, pp. 1-9. Poulot 1988a, p. 204 argues that the concept predates the French Revolution.
“These collections… whose only purpose was to flatter the vanity and serve the ambition of a few...” Abbé Grégoire, quoted Poulot 1988a, p. 203.
“If art were still, as it once was, the mere plaything of courts and palaces...” Quoted Howe 1913, p. 197. To which Howe adds: “ Mr. Choate's address is worthy of a careful reading. Its dominant note is the practical value of a museum of art to all the people, its truly public character.”
It imploded in the same manner as other projects of its kind. This historical explanation is laid out in Piven & Cloward 1971, pp. 248 sqq.
“Harlem off Our Mind?” a Times editorial helpfully suggested. NY Times Editorial 1969a.
“Certain trustees started to pressure [Hoving] to institute a mandatory admissions charge...” Hoving 1993, p. 218.
“The present tangle of pathologies is capable of perpetuating itself without assistance from the white world.” Moynihan 1965, Chapter V. See Patterson 2010, esp. pp. 98-99, describing Moynihan's role in defining the War on Poverty, with the enthusiastic support of the liberal media.
The Parks Commissioner, a patrician named August Heckscher II, was happy to pass on to the Museum the task of ensuring the underserved would be properly served, just in case they should decide to serve themselves. See Rosenzweig 1992, p. 497, who comes up with the interesting argument that Heckscher was the true populist since by considering all the rich white folks who'd be deprived of their right-to-stroll by the “senseless, destructive” presence of “hippies, antiwar protesters, welfare rights organizers” and the like, Heckscher “was embracing a much broader concept of the public than had any previous park commissioner.”
The Trustees decided that “Any visitor who objected should be allowed in free,” and Heckscher insisted the policy should be clearly posted. Hoving 1993, p. 218.
The Museum posted a sign reading, “Pay what you wish but you must pay something,” strong emphasis on must. Later, when a new Parks Commissioner complained that people were not being let in for free after all, the Director, Thomas Hoving, replied that charging a penny was part of the original agreement.
“I want to set straight what may be a misunderstanding. It is true that the signs in the Museum indicate that the visitor must contribute something. Specifically, the signs read 'Pay what you wish but you must pay something.' This has been the Museum's position since the discretionary admissions policy was first adopted in the fall of 1970... Over the years since we instituted the discretionary admissions policy, we have from time to time had visitors who insist upon their right to pay one cent. Under the policy this is perfectly permissible.” Hoving, responding to Parks Commissioner Weisl, August 6, 1975, in Saska 2013a.
There was no agreement, save for an informal exchange of letters and (perhaps) a draft of an agreement.
“As I am sure your files will indicate, [discussion of the letters quoted above]. At that time, [Heckscher] indicated that he would request the Corporation Counsel's office to prepare an amendment to the Museum's lease to formally sanction the plan, but this was never done because... it was found that under the Museum's lease from the City, the forgoing exchange of correspondence was itself sufficient.” Hoving, responding to Parks Commissioner Weisl, August 6, 1975, in Saska 2013a. My attempts to find a copy (or even proof of the existence of a draft agreement) have been fruitless so far. Most likely there was a promise of a draft agreement by Corporation Counsel (not by the Museum): In 2013 the Museum claimed there had been a draft of an agreement but apparently was unable to produce it—as was no doubt the Corporation Council. Wink-wink. Doubtless Heckscher had very good reasons for keeping his agreements with the Museum informal, since he'd previously been overruled by the Mayor, John V. Lindsay, over his plans to ban undesirables from Central Park (Rosenzweig 1992, p. 497.) It's also likely that the Mayor and City Council had good reasons to maintain plausible deniability.
The Trustees announced a costly building campaign to extend the Museum into Central Park. See also Museum President Dillon's comment, “Oh, let's go ahead. The next generation can pay for it.” Quoted Hoving 1993, p. 221. Heckscher claimed to not have been told of the Museum's plans, presumably while the admissions fees were discussed. According to Hoving there was expectation that the Museum, if it expanded at all, would expand into other neighborhoods in which it would presumably serve a more diverse population. It's hard to imagine this was seriously considered by either party.
This is the kind of lose-lose situation liberals love. In America (and especially in New York City), negotiations between the political and the economic spheres usually turn into a mismatched dialogue: elected officials usually think in terms of accommodation and balance of competing interests; business people think like lawyers, that is, in terms of how to maneuver for maximum advantage.
A sadist is someone who beats up on his partner to avoid sex, which he hates while pretending to love it. A liberal is someone who beats up on the rich to avoid helping the poor, whom he hates while pretending to love them. “The middle class is always a firm champion of equality when it concerns humbling a class above it, but is its inveterate foe when it concerns elevating a class below it.” Orestes Brownson, quoted Foner 1971, p. 23.
“We owe an obligation to the laws, but a higher one to the communities in which we live.” Postmaster General Amos Kendall, refusing to distribute Abolitionist literature in Southern states; quoted Howe 2007, p. 423. “You can't legislate morality:” President Eisenhower's oft-quoted explanation for refusing to enforce anti-segregation measures.
The judicial separation of Civil Society from Economic Society. Piven 1982, pp. 41-42.
The Andrew Jackson clause. Howe 2007, Chapter 11: “Jacksonian Democracy and the Rule of Law,” pp. 411-445.
The Winkwink Clause (known also as the Ku Klux Clause). The historian and activist C. Vann Woodward 1966, p. 81 describes courts in the Southern states giving “permissions-to-hate” by signaling that certain types of behavior would not be subject to legal (or moral) sanction.
As incentives came trickling down from Washington they met increased resistance from Whiteworld. Piven 1971, pp. 248 sqq.
The twin poles of Entitlement and Privilege. Wilensky & Lebeaux 1965, p. 139 sqq.
It’s a feature of structural racism (a definition, really), that ethnicity is so closely tied to patterns of economic and cultural stratification that it becomes invisible.
“Structural Racism in the U.S. is the normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics, historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal that routinely advantage whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. [...]
Scope: Structural Racism encompasses the entire system of white supremacy, diffused and infused in all aspects of society, including our history, culture, politics, economics and our entire social fabric. [...]
Indicators/Manifestations: The key indicators of structural racism are inequalities in power, access, opportunities, treatment, and policy impacts and outcomes, whether they are intentional or not. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present...” Lawrence 2004a.
The newly-minted fantasy that “all blacks were poor and that all poor people were black.” Jones 2013, p. 246.
“The New Genteel Racism:” Headline to an article in The Crisis, the journal of the NAACP, criticizing the Moynihan Report. Quoted Patterson 2010, p. 81.
Don’t call them Negroes, Darling: call them the Underclass. Gans 1995, p. 13.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights claims for all people a “right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community.”
“Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” UDHR 1948, Article 27.
Except when the community defines itself according to exclusionary criteria, meaning almost always. Balibar 1997, pp. 39, 70.
Just as Wagner’s music is “forever inaccessible to the truly Jewish.” Weininger 1903, p. 408.
“The lower-class Negro, Italian, Jew, or Slav, is permitted [sic] to approach the American middle class norm [of culture] more or less at his own mobility pace.” Riesman and Glazer 1950, p. 334.
The trick, as always in Functionalist Theory, is to drop any acknowledgment of coercion, economic or other. The one, extremely rare exception in Riesman and Glazer 1950, p. 334 is the critique of the tendency of “toward forcible Americanization which we associate with the settlement house.” One may fairly associate this fantasy with Hayek 1944: the only coercion acknowledged is toward socialization. On the need for a wider understanding of how power and coercion operate in society, see Foucault 1980a, pp. 198 sqq.
The increasing introduction into politics and government of ideas originating in the social sciences. Moynihan 1969, p. xiii.
That’s a case of the kettle calling the pot white. “The object of this study has been to define a problem, rather than propose solutions to it. We have kept within these confines...” Moynihan 1965, Chapter V.
By the early ‘sixties, in the face of an escalating social crisis, description had become an aggressive form of prescription.
“Systems theory can allow only empirical events and states into its object domain and must transform questions of validity into questions of behavior.” Habermas 1975, p. 6.
Rousseau worried that in order for a people to become virtuous they must already hold the values that would make them virtuous to begin with. Rousseau 1762, II, 7.
The mass media “do more to encourage other-directed tolerance than to preserve inner-directed indignation.” Riesman and Glazer 1950, p. 227.
The promotion of values (or what the New York Times calls the “reporting of trends.”) By 2014 even the Times ombudsperson had noticed: see Sullivan 2014a.
There is a common social process called Stigmatization. Goffman 1963.
The trick is to define entitlements as norms and let the old Invisible Hand take it from there. Wilensky & Lebeaux 1965, p. 140 suggest that stigma is structurally attached to non-entitlement. See also Gans 1995, pp. 2, 13, etc. On the structural role of norms and values in a capitalist system see Habermas 1975.
From the Met to the Welfare office, the techniques used to discourage them are remarkably similar. See Piven 1971.
“There’s no crime in Georgia against intimidating colored people.” (Or nudging them in Manhattan.) Branch 1998, p. 477.
“Actual access, provided in a way that 'nudges' visitors to donate, is not incompatible with the 1893 Act. Such a policy furthers the goal of the 1893 Act—providing sufficient funding to ensure access to all.” Saska 2013a.
It’s not a crime to set up a situation where the hip and privileged get in for free while others pay. See Sennet 2003, p. 187, referencing Christopher Pierson, Beyond the Welfare State? 2nd ed., London Polity Press, 1999, pp. 61-62 and quoting Bob Jessop, Conservative Regimes and the Transition to Post-Fordism Colchester, UK University of Essex Papers, 1988, p. 29 on the tactics of “a self-financed bonus for the privileged and stigmatizing, disciplinary charity for the disprivileged.” See also Piven 1971, pp. 150-1 on keeping people in ignorance as a standard repressive strategy against the poor in the 1970s.
What better way to reinforce that feeling, than making them wait on line, uncertain whether they can pay admission? Goffman 1963, p. 4 uses the term discreditable to describe individuals who may fear finding themselves subject to stigmatization for not being able to afford a fee.
The most crushing psychological burden on poor parents is the sense of a failure to provide. Jahoda 1971, vii-x.
Whatever happened to Personal Responsibility in Museumgoing? “Cultural values regarding the social responsibilities of government, business and the individual are now in flux. The older doctrines of individualism, private property and free market [are in opposition to] the newer values of social democracy—security, equality, humanitarianism.” Wilensky & Lebeaux 1965, note 1, p. 139; see also Mills 1959, p. 8 on the “helpful distinction with ... personal troubles and public issues;” See also Piven 1982, who argues that the movement from older to newer values is irreversible in American Culture. According to a common slogan of the 1970s, “The Personal is Political.” Why not the other way around?
The effects of racism and poverty can now read as their cause. See Gans 1995, p. 2.
The “Commodity Fetish” (or rather the fetish-aspect of any given commodity). Marx 1967 I.1.1.4 uses the term Fetischcharakter der Ware.
The consumer is really worshiping the money that he himself has paid for the ticket. Adorno 1978, pp. 278-279.
“A refusal of friendship and intercourse.” Titmuss 1971, p. 209.
IV. WAG THE DEGAS
On January 26, 2013 a family of three among the poorest of the poor, along with an accompanying social worker, were ejected from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Werner 2013a.
To paraphrase Gary (“Human Capital”) Becker, “Every time I discriminate... I’m losing.” Quoted Hershey 2014a. A similar argument concerning museums is developed in DiMaggio & Useem 1982a. See also the critique of Becker, Nobel-Prize winning economist and promoter of a particular concept of Cultural" Capital, in Bourdieu 2005
Or is it, rather, that the museum today houses several museums in one, with interests at once competing and interdependent? This may be a situation of the type that, according to Étienne Balibar 1997, p. 10 does not originate in the first instance from rising tensions between traditional social relations on the one hand and changing economic realities on the other, but from “contradictions in the development of the productive forces themselves, ‘contradictions of progress.’” The Metropolitan Museum is not caught between human demands and the needs of capital, but between two separate, irreconcilable forms of capital, one of which depends on maximizing visitor attendance, the other on the nurturing he appearance of growth and demand. Before there is a conflict of interests between the visitors and the Museum, there is a conflict of functions at the Museum itself: between the exchange-value aspect of the admissions process, and its use-value: the instability of capital is structural, and specifically instable when seen as a chronological development.
Will the Museum, like Capitalism itself, live or perish on the question, whether the free development of a restricted few rests on a web of coercion masquerading as incentive? “The free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” Marx 1848.
Museum personnel had “preserved the opportunity for even these people to visit the Museum in more dignified conditions”: « préservé la possibilité aussi pour ces personnes de visiter le musée dans des conditions plus dignes. » Quoted in Rollot 2013a; see also Tardieu 2013a.
The stated program of the governing Socialist Party...: the State promotes the personal responsibility of each individual. Critique by a former collaborator of Bourdieu in Corcuff 2008a.
Since all motion, social or individual, originates in economics the role of the State is to promote those activities whose use-value lies strictly within the range of the economic. See for instance Rancière 2000.
“The legislator, unable to use force, nor reason, must of necessity turn to an authority of another type that can direct without force and persuade without reasoning.” “Ainsi donc le législateur ne pouvant employer ni la force ni le raisonnement, c'est une nécessité qu'il recoure à une autorité d'un autre ordre, qui puisse entrainer sans violence et persuader sans convaincre.... Note: E veramente, dit Machiavel, mai non fu alcuno ordinatore di leggi straordinarie in un populo, che non ricorresse a...” Rousseau 1762, II, 7.
The “Unhappy Consciousness”: Hegel 1971, 251 sqq, etc.
Plenty of time to think and paint. “As one writer described them, they reject the working world because it does not give them time. They spend their entire life making time, until that is all there is, and they still do not produce.” Harrington 1962, p. 87. “Eventually every pleasure which emancipates itself from exchange-value takes on subversive features.” Adorno 1978a, p. 279. See also Catullus, Carmina V.
In 1995 the sociologist Herbert Gans warned that the War against the Underclass would gradually engulf its most eager foot-soldiers, the petite bourgeoisie. Gans 1995, p. 2 points out that the expression underclass was first used by Gunnar Myrdal to describe those being forced out by a postindustrial society, but decides to use the term as a behavioral, not an economic qualification. This should not blind us to the fact that the two overlap: the cultural and the economic.
“The leaders of this war... increase the punitive conditions under which all help is given, and fan further the hatred of the poor among the more fortunate classes.” Gans 1995, p. 1.
Back in the ‘sixties, even the small measures taken to ensure for all Americans a decent standard of living had given the lower working class better bargaining power.
“The income-maintenance programs are coming under assault because they limit profits by enlarging the bargaining power of workers with employers.” Piven & Cloward 1971, p. 13.
Now, instead, the bosses fought the rising costs of labor with economic theory. Piven & Cloward 1971, pp. 22 sqq.
A War of Position to make Gramsci drool, a dispositif to make Foucault hard. See Foucault 1980a. I chose Foucault's original expression, dispositif, over the standard translation, apparatus, which I find to be semantically corrupted by the Althusserian concept of apparatus on one side and Angambem's overly Heidegerrian use of the same term on the other.
Max Weber’s Theory of Social and Economic Organization. Weber 1957.
And because they’re so efficient they achieve Authority. As an illustration of the obsession with Authority among museums directors, see Cuno 2004.
“We can define the specificity of communication as practiced by museums on two points.” Desvallées 2010, pp. 29-30. The complete publication describes itself as “a new set of standards for the organization” and “the fruit of many years of research, analysis and revision by ICOM's Committee for Museology.”
“Nonpartisan technocratic managers.” Mac Donald 2014a.
“Benjamin, a genius, was wrong about one thing: the age of reproduction has not diminished the aura of the original object.” Kimmelman 2001a.
Benjamin’s famous article questions Weber’s original assertion that with the bureaucratization, standardization and rationalization of social institutions the aura of authority applied to leader and artworks is diminished. Benjamin 1968a; see also Adorno 1978a. On the interpretation of Weber's concept of Entzauberung (“Disenchantment) by Benjamin and Adorno see Andrew Arato in Arato 1978a, pp 1991, 209-212, 216-217.
Democracy, the ego-function of Society. Freud, 1930.
The future favors infantilization against autonomy. The Times is all for it. Kimmelman 2005.
In the bad old days of Stalin a visit to the opera or museum was no longer a means of educating oneself or becoming a better worker as it had earlier been in most industrialized countries. The thesis that Russia under Stalin was a form of State Capitalism with predictable results in the disempowerment of workers, particularly in the realm of culture, is argued by Sheila Fitzpatrick; see Werner 2013b.
Little more than the formation of values, and first among them workplace discipline. In the early '60s the New York critic Irving Sandler was invited to Wolfsburg, the Volkswagen company town in Germany, by Heinrich Nordhoff, the director-general:
“I was skeptical about the kinds of cultural affairs that Volkswagen chose to feature. There were almost no creative activities, such as art or music classes. All were spectator events. Art meant recreation, an adjunct to production. A Sunday trip to an exhibition was the kind of diversion that was expected to increase industrial efficiency on Monday.” Sandler 2003, pp. 116-117. A mind is a terrible thing to try to quantify in terms of exchange-value.
Visitors are no more entrusted with deciding what they need to know than a worker at GM is entrusted with deciding what kind of car to build. Braverman 1974.
Whether and how judgments of Value are also judgments of Truth. On the so-called Transformation Problem in Marxist thought, viz., whether money may be used as an objective criterion of all value, see Simon Mohun, “Value and Price” in Bottomore 1983, pp. 568-569.
As Habermas points out, this means the capitalists have to spend a lot of time, effort, money and, yes, capital—cultural, symbolic or cash—to ensure that people count what’s what’s supposed to be counted, and not what’s not. Habermas 1975, Heilbroner 1999a, etc. cf. Adam Smith's comment [Smith 1776, Book I, Chapter X, Part I, “Inequalities arising from the Nature of the Employments Themselves.”]:
“Education in the ingenious arts and in the liberal professions, is still more tedious and expensive. The pecuniary recompense, therefore, of painters and sculptors, of lawyers and physicians, ought to be much more liberal: and it is so accordingly.” Note the editor's explanation, in Smith 1994, p. 118 footnote, that ought means “economically desirable,” not “morally worthwhile.”
See also ISM, 2013 for a remarkably candid (or blissfully unaware) analysis of the current difficulties of the New York Times, by David Carr, who writes its “Media Equation” column. Carr worries that as the Times' monopoly on sources collapses “we won't have facts in common.” Coming from an outlet that has built its power on maintaining (or claiming) a monopoly on access to “facts,” there's a certain unconscious irony there.
Lysenkonomics (After Trofim Denisovich Lysenko, Russian scientist favored by Stalin): a system of economic thought without scientific validity, primarily based on ideological assumptions that match the bias of the ruling oligarchy. Starting in the early 'fifties, Lysenkonomics became the only acceptable economic theory taught in American universities; dissidents were fired and harassed. Subsequently, Lysenkonomics was widely popularized in the oligarchy-controlled media under such names as “Freakonomics,” etc.
For a perfect example of Lysenkonomics applied to the admissions process at the Metropolitan Museum of Art see New York Times, 7/21/2006. Leonhardt is a higher-up at the Times who formerly wrote a column on economics. His article is a dazzling piece of neo-liberal skulduggery, well worth reading for its unconscious humor. There is, says Leonhardt, “a certain beauty to the Met's system;” and the admission policy at the Met is really a “progressive tax.” You see, since the rich always pay more than their fair share it's actually the poor who benefit. As to whether the poor or minorities are discouraged from going to the Met by the admissions policy, Leonhardt has a ready answer: just think of all the poor people who could easily attend Harvard on a scholarship, but just don't bother to apply, so it's their fault. Etc.
Non-economic coercion grows: waiting for admission is no longer a simple social transaction, it’s like approaching the Lord of the Manor. On the survival (or return, or reinvention) of Feudalism in certain capitalist societies see Wood 1991.
The answer, as usual, is, to socialize costs through massive programs of indoctrination.
« I. Objectifs.
L’enseignement de l’histoire des arts a pour
- d’offrir à tous les élèves, de tous âges, des situations de rencontres...
- de les aider à franchir spontanément les portes d’un musée, d’une galerie...
L’enseignement de l’histoire des arts est l’occasion de nouer un partenariat avec :
- Les institutions artistiques et culturelles de l’Etat...
- les établissements publics à vocation artistique et culturelle...» Ministère de l’Éducation nationale 2008a
Those Nazi rallies where the visitor was encouraged (strongly encouraged) to pay out as much as he could in order to provide a quantifiable measure of enthusiasm. Mowrer 1933, p. 257. Cf also Halévy, pp. 265 sqq. on the “Organization of Enthusiasm” as a hallmark of totalitarian regimes.
A critical thinker in the art world today feels totally useless, mildly ridiculous and occasionally threatened, like that German liberal who went to a Nazi rally with plans to raise his hand and ask a question of der Fűhrer. Palmier 2006, p. 72. On the Nazi ban on art criticism, see Palmier 2006, pp. 36-37.
Capitalists, as Marx points out, have no use for art criticism: it only keeps consumers from “enjoying themselves" as their own capital. Marx 1967, Book I, Part VII, section 5.
Is that Jus utendi or jus fruendi?
Chapter 5: Of Property
26. Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself. [...] Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that Nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with it, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. [...] Locke 1690.
Some years ago a couple of culturologists pointed out the contradiction between screening out the undesirables at the museum and legitimating a culture of consumption. DiMaggio & Useem 1982a
A large number of American museums have recently turned or returned to free admissions. As of 2006, according to Smith 2006a, the list of admission-free art museums in America includes the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum (free since its founding in 1904), Saint Louis Zoo Saint, Louis Art Center and Missouri History Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Dayton Art Institute, the Cincinnati Art Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Toledo Art Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Menil Collection, the Amon Carter Museum, the Des Moines Art Center, the Virginia Fine Arts Museum, the Timken Museum of Art, Houston's Contemporary Art Museum and the J. Paul Getty Museum, as well as the National Gallery and other Government-supported museums in Washington, DC. By 1918 a fair number of American museums offered free admissions to the general public: the Saint Louis Art Museum (since its foundation in 1904); the American Museum of Natural History in 1917. However a number of these museums have a two-track system where only the "general collections" are free, which of course creates its own nightmares, since it drives the museum into a kind of blockbuster-or-bust mentality. Jean-Michel Tobelem provides a continuing narrative on the extremely unstable movement toward and away from free admissions in France; see in particular Tobelem 2009a.
“Establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufactures and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction and recreation.” Metropolitan Museum of Art, Act of Incorporation of 1870. See Charter, Sect 1, #1 p. 3. The words “and recreation” were dropped from the Charter in 1908.
“The mission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is to collect, preserve, study, exhibit, and stimulate appreciation for and advance knowledge of works of art that collectively represent the broadest spectrum of human achievement at the highest level of quality, all in the service of the public and in accordance with the highest professional standards.” Mission Statement 2013.
With these words the Museum tossed all but the pretense of an educational mission. See Harris 1993, arguing that the Museum has, since the 1930s, moved toward a situation where “visitor behavior was independent of qualitative differences in the objects displayed.” Museum education, like all primary education, is about managing behavior, not about a particular, result-oriented behavior.
The “illusion of an exchange.” Marx 1993, p. 509.
The naïve assumption that the exchange-value of a painting is proportionate to its use-value.
“If the commodity in general combines exchange-value and use value, then the pure use-value, whose illusion the cultural goods must preserve in completely capitalist society, must be replaced by pure exchange-value, which precisely in its capacity as exchange-value deceptively takes over the function of use-value. The specific fetish-character of music lies in this quid pro quo.” Adorno 1978, p. 279.
This is where Baumol’s Dilemna comes in, also known as Baumol’s Disease, aka the Curse of Baumol, more accurately Return of the Falling Rate of Profit. See Baumol 1968. Baumol's theory, which was already nonsense when applied to the particular field of the Performing Arts, has recently been revived in misapplication to Higher Education and Health Care. See Soltas 2013a.
Marx’s original theory was a response to Carey’s argument that the Law of Diminishing Returns was a good thing. See Marx 1993, p. 885. Also Marx, Capital, Vol. 3, Part Three. “The Law of the Tendential Fall in the Rate of Profit,” and especially Marx 1981, p. 250, where Marx argues that the Falling Rate of Profit is a purely subjective, historically determined aspect of economic life. See also Marx 1981, p. 523, n. 83, in which Marx implicitly agrees with Carey (and perhaps most recently with Piketty 2014 ) that labor and capital are in a structural contradiction.
Marx understood that the capitalist doesn’t treat workers as the owners of capital, symbolic, cultural or otherwise, but as capital itself: as the consumers, not the owners, of the product of their own labor. See in particular Marx 1981, p. 730, where Marx, in response to Carey, argues that a traditional theory of surplus value omits the totalizing ways in which all but the means of subsistence are withheld from the worker : “It should not be forgotten that this complete expropriation of the worker from his conditions of labour is not a result toward which the capitalist mode of production tends, but rather the given presupposition from which it proceeds.”
The Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art recently explained that “the average visitor costs us about $45—it’s called the dollar/experience ratio.” Pogrebin 2014a. Campbell appears to have divided the Museum's total estimated expenses for 2014 by the number of visitors. In a clearsighted and brief intervention, (Fedel 2012a), Maxwell Anderson, Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, points to this “novel metric when evaluating [museum] performance: exhibition cost per visitor.” See also Broad 2012a.
New York City offers generous tax subsidies for cultural institutions, especially cultural institutions that, in order to survive, must rely on triple-tax free bonds, guaranteed by the state, that allow them to invest in luxury buildings that bring in enough income to expand into yet other buildings. In 1977, under considerable pressure from the Rockefeller Family who control the Museum of Modern Art, New York State Legislature approved a system that allows so-called not-for-profits to issue triple-tax-exempt bonds in order to build commercial “mixed-use” or “combined-use” facilities whose revenue purportedly would return to the not-for-profit. See New York State Law, Articles 21.01–21.15 and Trust for Cultural Resources of the City of New York. Such bonds were specifically intended to help the Museum of Modern Art to integrate a commercial condominium into the Museum.
The most controversial aspect of the legislation establishing the Trust for Cultural Resources is its ability to issue triple-tax-free bonds that allow for “combined-use facilities,” defined as “a development that benefits a cultural institution by enabling it to develop under-utilized real estate assets partly for its own use and partly for the benefit of a private developer,” TCRNYC 1977About/CombinedUseFacilities.html. Such bonds are exempt from Municipal, State and Federal Taxes) and covered by the Trust for Cultural Resources, a nonprofit State Agency founded in 1977 (TCRA 1978; see also New York State Cultural Resources Act (SCRA), N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 301-323 and New York City Cultural Resources Act (CCRA), N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law 325-331, both in McKinney Supp. 1977). In effect, the Trust for Cultural Resources was set up in order to allow the Museum of Modern Art to build an income-producing office-tower on top of it present structure, and to allow it to acquire (by eminent domain if necessary) other properties, including other not-for-profits, and in particular the American Folk Art Museum. Sokolow 1978a questions the legality, and even the constitutionality, of the practice; see also Stephens 1978a.
One such museum just recently defaulted on its bonds. The American Folk Art Museum, adjacent to MoMA, was driven to bankruptcy by its inability to pay its bond debt: the bonds had been guaranteed by the Trust for Cultural Resources, based on estimates of increased attendance that were wildly overinflated. See Balloon 2010.
Recently the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that “attendance has increased from 4.5 million to 6 million over five years.” Pogrebin 2014 In the same article the Director announced that the dollar/experience ratio had reached $45.00, down from an earlier number of $40.00: one can reasonably assume that projected attendance for the year ending June, 2014, was down from 20013, when it was boosted by the Alexander McQueen fashion exhibition. At any rate, the vaunted growth in attendance is a matter of perspective since the number of 4.5 million (presumably for the year ending in June, 2009, see Kennedy 2009a) corresponds to the period immediately following the Crash of 2008, when foreign tourism (on which the Met has grown increasingly dependent) declined sharply and Municipal and State governments had to pull back on their considerable investment in publicizing cultural institutions: attendance before the Crash was, roughly, 5.4 million; see Crawford 2010a, p. 40. The Met's attendance, if is growing, is not growing consistently, but with major swings. This explains the importance of special exhibitions, which are expensive (and usually fruitless) gambles to hike up attendance figures.
Fudging museum attendance figures is an old tradition at the Met and elsewhere. In 1987 the New York State Comptroller found that the Metropolitan Museum of Art had overstated its attendance by 42 percent. This falls under the purview of the State because the Government relies on these figures in their requests for funding; the indifference of the watchdogs to what amounts to fraud, is stunning:
“I am in favor of falsifying attendance figures. This was the policy at the Metropolitan Museum for many years.” Walker 1974, p. 305.
“The bottom line is that they are providing the services that they said they would. A lot of people are being taken care of.” Iris O'Malley, New York State Council on the Arts, quoted Kleiman 1987a. On a personal note, I once had to contact Ms. O'Malley: as a Trustee for a small not-for-profit arts organization, I was concerned that the Director was cooking the books. Ms. O'Malley's response: “If you think I have time to talk to a bunch of... artists!”
The place has been expanding to six million visitors for the past forty years. See Tomkins 1989, who includes separate and contradictory figures in the revised edition, next to the original count.
This is consistent with figures nationwide, which show a long-term decrease in museum attendance. See NEA 2012a, The National Endowment for the Arts' Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, considered “the best available trend data on museum attendance.” AAM 2012a.
It takes all the marketing, arm-twisting and infusions of cash for the museum just to stay in place. See, buried halfway in an enthusiastic report entitled “Art Museum Attendance Keeps Rising In the U.S.” and based on blatant half-truths and weaseling, the comment that “Nearly everyone credits the success of American museums to marketing.” Dobrzynski 1999a.