The Minneapolis museum makes a play to become a networked cultural powerhouse
The Walker Art Center launched a new website last week that should be a model for other institutions of all kinds. The site repositions the Walker, in the words of Artlog, "at the center of the global conversation about contemporary art," by incorporating ideas, words, and art from far outside the museum's walls.
The Walker is in Minneapolis, a wonderful city that is not near the physical centers of contemporary art production. Nonetheless, through smart curation and creative engagement, the museum has become an international symbol for how to make an arts venue work in a medium-sized city. From afar, it has always seemed like a place (much like MCA Denver) that was bursting at the seams of its geographical location. So perhaps it is no surprise that the Walker decided that it could succeed by becoming "a new creative platform" as director Olga Viso put it
In the physical world, cultural institutions thought their authority derived from their precious collections of irreproducible objects. On the Internet, every website is successful to the extent that people want to reproduce -- on their own screens -- whatever culture you happen to be making. So, it takes a considerable shift for museum directors and their patrons to somehow want their collections flung across the world, every single person making her own 'print' of a painting each time she opens a browser and surfs to a museum collection.