Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MFAH, humbug!

Cayley is studying "SAT Words" (words that may eventually appear on the SAT, which is the US's most widely-used college aptitude test), and one pair of those words was "censor" vs. "censure".  I explained the difference this way: I have to be on my best behavior in social situations and in professional situations and in educational situations, and this is one of the reasons why I really do NOT feel obliged to act correspondingly sweet and civilized on my blog - I think that, rather than censoring myself, I'll damned-well say what I want to say!  And if anybody feels like they want to censure me because of this, they can kiss my Texas grits! (Well, maybe I'll censor myself just a LITTLE bit...)

Case in point:  Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) plainly SUCKS ASS!!  Hell itself will freeze over before I ever give those flaming idiots one thin dime of my nonprofit contributions!!

Let me explain.  Here's a sign you see while walking into the place from the parking garage:

And here's the art to which it refers... nice, although a propos of nothing in particular that I could see:

And that, my friends, is where all expression of creativity or freedom or simple harmless interaction WITH the art severely ENDS because, beyond that point, you're barely allowed to draw your breath in the place. 

I got into my first spot of trouble in taking this pic of a walkway between two of the museum buildings:

"YOU CAN'T TAKE PHOTOS OF THAT!" an attendant yelled.  I wanted to ask why not - it was a bloody walkway, not a priceless Renoir - but, of course, few of them are conversant in English.  They weren't hired to actually SPEAK to people or INTERACT in any educational sense - they were just hired to bark out mindless prohibitions.

Now, most museums have a no tripods, no flash policy.  This is quite understandable: you don't want to risk damaging the art with tripod legs or via the excessive light saturation from the flashes of thousands of art patrons. 

But MFAH has expanded upon that common-sense policy by enforcing no photography of any kind.  We specifically went there because Cayley is taking an art class in school, and she was looking for pieces of art to write up for a project.  When attendants in black suits start barking at 12-year-old kids taking grainy pictures with cell phones that don't even flash, something is DESPERATELY wrong.  Cayley was SO disappointed - this was a possibility that neither of us had foreseen. 

And it wasn't just us.  They were hassling other students also.  For taking crappy pictures of 300-year-old paintings with dinky little cell phones.  How do they justify the likes of that?  Nobody has copyright on the stuff.  Greed, I guess.  Avarice.  They want to keep it all for themselves.  Children are not privy to it - they are not even entitled to rotten facsimilies of no financial value, not even for personal use.

What good does it do to visit an art museum if you can't have some degree of interaction with the environment?  Isn't the point to experience art??  How are kids supposed to present art research to their teachers or fellow students if they can't somehow represent the art visually?

I WAS allowed to photograph THIS piece in MFAH, and I think it sums up where they fall on our social equivalent of a phylogenetic scale:

SO, a great example of excessive and unnecessary regulation killing a whole experience.  Good luck with your future fundraising endeavors, you MFAH losers.  May you duly reap what you sow.

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