2018 in museums: big ethics questions dominate the field
Museums are facing greater scrutiny over sponsorship and the artists they choose to display
10th December 2018 14:27 GMT
via The Art Newspaper
Museums have been reckoning with the momentum of the #MeToo movement in 2018, as accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct have been brought against artists, directors, curators and patrons in the US and beyond. The year has seen high-profile resignations and suspensions, exhibitions cancelled or modified in light of unfolding claims, and considerable debate over how now to interpret the work of problematic male artists of the past, from Pablo Picasso to Egon Schiele. Ever alert to art-world misogyny and abuses of power, the activist collective Guerrilla Girls even produced a tongue-in-cheek guide to rewriting the humble museum label in the age of #MeToo. The crux of the problem, they say, is the persistent belief that “art is above it all”.
There has also been greater scrutiny of the ethics of museum sponsors. The photographer Nan Goldin launched the anti-opioid activist group Prescription Addiction Intervention Now (PAIN), calling on museums to boycott donations from some members of the Sackler family, whose firm Purdue Pharma manufactures the highly addictive drug Oxycontin. The group also demands that the prominent cultural patrons channel their wealth into the treatment and prevention of opioid addiction in the US.