One thing the exhibition isn't is contemplative, and that is perhaps the point. Most visitors don't have the background to enjoy many art museum exhibits. A didactic exhibit that sought to explain would be deadly. The OMCA opens up access to the art by seeking to engage visitors and then to validate individual responses. The spaces are inviting. The experience is comfortable. The result is visitors who have a fulfilling aesthetic experience and are, perhaps, inspired to learn more.
This is not the approach most art museum directors would choose. Contemplative experience are what many visitors expect, but it works here.
The Museum has published a book about their transformation: How
When I first began here, we couldn’t capture the right word for what we were doing – except that they all began with “re.” Remodel? Not quite right – sounds like the kitchen. Renovation? Suited more for an old farmhouse. Reinstallation? Who knows what that means. Reinvention? Well, only if we’re tossing our history aside.
As we moved further into the process, however, I began to see that this project involved much more than the physical change of expanding galleries, enhancing the infrastructure, and improving our visitor amenties. This project touches every aspect of the Museum – from the way we work together as a staff, with our visitors, with our community – an ultimately the vision of this institution. We are transforming. And, as the dictionary so aptly notes, this means changing our composition and structure; our outward appearance; and most fundamentally, our character and constitution.(The quote is cribbed from the Arts Forward blog.)