This figure immediately reminded me of a very interesting EconTalk episode on the management of art museums. The premises from the discussion (as I recall):
- Art museums have more than 10x the number of pieces in their archives as they do on display. Some of this art will never be seen by the pubic.
- When art galleries charge admission, patrons feel the need to "get their money's worth" so they rush to see as much of the exhibits as possible, without taking time to thoroughly enjoy anything.
- The purpose of art is to be enjoyed. The above two points make this goal much harder.
- Museums should be free admission and funded by selling pieces from the archive (really interesting discussion on how this is taboo for curators)
The second-order effects:
- Patrons can sit and enjoy a very small section of the museum instead of rushing through, since they can simply come back for more later
- More people get to see fine art
- Second- and third-tier museums start to gain access to better art, since they can simply buy it instead of waiting for estate donations (which go to larger museums)
I think it's worth a listen.
Super happy to see this effort resulting in such an amazing collection free for the world to enjoy. Your typical tourist in Amsterdam will visit the Rijks for one or maybe two paintings and they won't care about the rest (your guess which two), but there is a lot more there that is worth you time and some patience.
At least now, thanks to modern technology , more can see the art then ever before :-)
Additionally, a lot of the art in the archive is by nature going to be stuff that might make sense to display in a dedicated exhibit, but less so in a general museum. By that, I mean that if you have a handful of Picasso canvases, along with 100 of his sketches, displaying all 100 sketches probably doesn't make sense unless you're doing a special Picasso exhibit.
In this way, the archive is important, and Rijks burning down would suck. Along the lines of your thinking, however, there is a ton of amazing art sitting in investors' basements and shipping containers that we might never see again, much of which we've already lost track of.
Art isn't only something that can be revered. Works of art are basically historical documents that contain a narrative of that period. It's not all self-portraits of people missing an ear or reclining nudes, even though they too contain a lot of information that is telling of the period they were made in.
Up until some two hundred years ago artists like painters and sculptors, were some of the few that could actually immortalize, or at least significantly prolong the normal lifespan of people, things or events.
I encourage anyone to take some time to go through these online collections. It's amazing what you'll learn about history by being inquisitive about the subject matter. I can also recommend the Arts & Culture project by Google, which already indexed a tremendous amount of the Rijksmuseum's catalogue.
While I will be the first to agree with you that paintings and other visual art is precious and worth keeping, it is not on the same level as books and knowledge. Comparing these is not doing justice to either one.
Who says there won't be many more museums in 50 years? Or some other model which will result in more art being on display.
If Dutch culture budget gets in serious issues, they could finance museum survival also via sales of those.
The options what to do with it are almost endless and much better than just losing them.
Reason: you won’t find it (it’s in the Mauritshuis in The Hague. https://www.mauritshuis.nl/nl-nl/)
There's so much art that, simply for the sake of limited display space (as well as other things), can't get shown in the museum. Digitizing efforts like this are fantastic.
Night Watch and...? Girl With a Pearl Earring? The Hare?
Visiting Rijksmuseum for night watch and not spending at least an hour in the wing where it is housed would be extremely silly - all the paintings there are worth the visit.
I think this is interesting, but doesn't work when you are visiting from out of town. We did this very thing when we visited Rijksmuseum -we had half a day and wanted to see everything we could. But the point is taken that smaller museums would get nicer collections. We could enjoy our local Museum more if it had more Dutch masters!
This is definitely true about visiting a local zoo or museum when you have a membership. Our son just want so see the lions? That's fine! We'll come back some other time and see the rest.
They can do this now. But if museum sells collection the can't "simply come back for more later" cause it will be gone forever into private hands.
> More people get to see fine art
until it's all been sold.
> Second- and third-tier museums start to gain access to better art, since they can simply buy it instead of waiting for estate donations (which go to larger museums)
There is no way 2nd and 3rd teir museums are going to be able to compete with private buyers on price. Also where will they get money to buy this if they have to sell art to raise money.
This sounds like typical "privatize everything cause free markets!" privileged people spew because they'll benefit more than when they have to share public services with the "dirty" masses.
Also, maybe you missed the part where there is 10x-100x the amount of art sitting in the archive than on display? Bringing lots of new supply of art onto the market would necessarily lower prices. This would make it less profitable to buy up art privately in the hope that it appreciates. It would also make it more affordable for other museums.
At the same time, there's nothing preventing a first-tier museum from only selling to other museums rather than to private collectors. They might even stipulate terms of the sale that the art must stay with the new owner for a minimum time frame.
Is it a good thing that so much art is in the hands of private individuals? Shouldn't the legacy and heritage of past generations by rights belong to everybody?
Distributing it widely means enormously lowering the risk of it all being lost.
Ironically, distributing art widely via the private market leads to way more lost art. A painting living in the AIC's basement means there's an entire team dedicated to preserving it, and a system for accessing it should you want to see it. A painting living in the basement of an anonymous investor who bought it off-the-record from someone who themselves bought it anonymously at auction may never resurface (incidentally, this scenario describes the state of quite a bit of classic art).
You may not have intended it, but that sounds like loose statistical language meant to misguide the reader. Yes the probability that ALL is lost is lower when works are distributed, so your statement is correct. But what actually matters is the expected total value of the works successfully preserved over time under each methodology.
I’d bet on libraries, specifically top tier institutional libraries, where they have whole preservation departments for whom disaster planning is a key responsibility.
Being stored in a museum's basement is not a terminal state. Beside the growing effort to digitize collections (like this one), new curators design new exhibits based on their archive--and the archives of other museums who are willing to loan pieces--all the time. The archives are also typically accessible on request, though this is mostly done by researchers/students.
Being stored in the archive simply means there is a team of people dedicated to caring for a piece until there is someone asks to see it. This system isn't perfect, and some museums are better than others about access, but it is far from the "buried forever" scenario that many seem to be imagining.
In fact, the "lost forever" scenario is far more common on the private market, where art is bought as an investment in which the owner is actually incentivized to restrict access. Due to the complexities of international trade, there is a huge amount of "lost" art sitting in some anonymous buyer's vault that may or may not ever resurface. To be clear, I have no problem with the private ownership of art, it's just more often the cause of the problem being discussed here (inaccessibility) than it is a solution.
I really like the disruptive idea and it may work as expected for a while but in a few decades everything's gone in private collections.
The primary goal of museum is to care of masterpieces and history traces. They're definitely not an entertainment center as a zoo. Don't get me wrong, I'd love the opposite because lions are sensible beings are status aren't.
A museum is not just an amusement park. If you want to see less art be more selective in what to see or go to the advertised shows and be amused.
A museum preserves cultural heritage.
The roman books about the greeks hidden in monasteries, sculptures buried in the earth that inspired the renaissance where not seen by the public for hundreds of years.
Until some start reading them again,a fire, a hope for a different way of thinking was born, accumulating to democracy land of the free etc. and probably your way of life as it is now.
So do not underestimate the value of currently unseen cultural heritage.
Selling it of now to a rich dump head showing it around until it rots in a basement as it is not envogue anymore is a filter but will put it on high risk.
Where I live there's an annual subscription that's valid for the majority of museums countrywide. The museums get the money in some proportion to how they were visited but the annual cost is fixed for one citizen. So, if you want, you can visit the same (or a different!) museum every day and look at just one painting or piece at a time.
This has both increased the income for museums but also number of visits. Sounds like a good model for financing the upkeep of museums.
This is something that can be encouraged more, especially across borders. For example, British museums definitely don't know what to do with their vast caverns filled with plunder .... ahem, vast archives of art, but even a small fraction of a fraction of that would be a great addition to a museum in, say, Moldova (my country), or Serbia, or ...
Museums are free in the UK (apart from special events). They are funded by the state.
Pretty much any publicly funded gallery has free admission.
It’s important you always choose what to see, otherwise it becomes a blur.
Of course, it really helps if you've been to a place before and will probably go back again. When I go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art I basically have a mental plan for what I'm going to see.
A museum membership is really nice if you're in a place a lot. At a time when I was visiting NYC frequently and MOMA had just reopened after a major renovation and tickets were hard to get, I bought a membership. It was really nice to be able to pop in for an hour when I was in town and see some things I especially liked.
This. One of the reasons to live in a major city is regular access to first tier museums. I used to go hang out in the scholars court at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as an escape from the city for a while, then take a stroll through a gallery on my way back out as a use for my lunchtime.
Absolutely. Having grown up in NYC and spending a lot of time in Central Park as a child, my brother and I would often go to the Metropolitan Museum on rainy days.
Their admissions policy is the same now (pay what you wish, but you must pay something) as it was back in the 1970s, but they don't really make that clear any more.
As 9/10 year old kids by ourselves, we didn't have much money, so we'd pay a nickel or a quarter and go and wander around the museum. It was (and still is) glorious!
Having those experiences as a child was amazing, and I heartily recommend visiting museums to everyone.
I've been to the Rijksmuseum too, and it's pretty amazing. In Amsterdam, I do like the Van Gogh Museum more, but that's more personal preference than anything else. The Rijksmuseum has a much more extensive collection too.
That they're putting this stuff online is wonderful, but there's no substitute for actually being there.
These days, I always give the recommended donation (I think it's $25 for non-members), but
I believe that's only true for New York state residents now. Others have to pay.  Basically, I guess more and more people stopped paying.
That may well be true. But as long as it's true for NYS residents, that means kids today can do what I did back in the day. And that's a very good thing.
I wish the American Museum of Natural History had been that way too (it never was) or I would have gone there more often too. It's not art focused, but it's a wonderful experience.
Either way, it's at least theoretically possible that they could finance themselves by, essentially, savvy investment in artworks.
It's a form of visual entertainment no different from visiting the cinema or a theatre; of course one is to pay for it.
They make expenses housing these paintings just as a cinema does, and have the right to charge to recuperate this.
In fact, I see no reason why musea should even be allowed to be non-profit. — is a cinema ever non profit?
There seems to be a rather arbitrary mentality that some entertainment should be free, in particular whatever entertainment “the cultural establishment” has arbitrarily declared to be “intellectual”, often for no other reason than that it's old.
Wishing to see a famous painting with one's own eyes is no different from wanting to see a famous singer perform live. — a man should pay for it if he wish to do so.
I find that some draw an arbitrary distinction between “art” and “entertainment” with endless semantics debates of what constitutes “art”, but typically fueled by “whatever the party that decides it feels is sufficiently associated with the intellectual elite rather than the bourgeois common man.”.
I find this distinction to be bereft of merit and yet another example of trying to create a line between the rich and the poor.
If the poor man showed an interest in Rembrandt, it would be called entertainment; if the rich man were more fond of 50 Cent, it would be called art.
Or to put it more bluntly, art is an archaic medium of entertainment that has little chance of survival against modern media and society wishes to keep it.
A singer can only serve a large crowd if his voice be amplified by some mechanism, which is no different than electronically magnifying a painting.
For the “authentic” experience, one would have to be closer, which means the serving would be diminished in capacity.
Apart from that, the Dutch government arbitrarily gives out art subsidies for musical performances, invariably performances it arbitrarily deems “artistic” enough, which seems to come down to little more than “whatever style of music it associates with an older, more educated, wealthier audience.”
I find it rather arbitrary that Wibi Soerjadi can cash in his art subsidies, but Anouk cannot.
> Or to put it more bluntly, art is an archaic medium of entertainment that has little chance of survival against modern media and society wishes to keep it.
And I would submit that the reasons that society wishes to keep it, is purely because it's associated with rich, educated adults.
Yes? I regularly attend showings at a non-profit cine-club.
Many museums are education oriented rather than entertainment oriented anyways. There is a reason school busses are constantly distorting students.
Occasionally. Or at least run in a "only making the bills because they are supported by donations and public funds" fashion similar to many museums and other arts things.
This works really well and doesn't involve selling the family silver.
Depends a lot on the venue, but some places that won't increase visitor stays, it might even reduce them. I'll bet it makes them nicer places to be too.
I imagine it wouldn't work for them Louvre!
In the Netherlands we have the museumkaart, costs are €60 per year.
Which give you unlimited access to most museums here.
Resulting in a lot of people going multiple times to the same museum.
I guess conservation, security and cost would be the biggest issues there.
In the Netherlands it's pretty expensive, but a number of museums have a "free day" once a month.
My biggest problem is actually not so much the price, but rather the opening times, which tend to be during office hours: when people are working. I would love it if more museums would be open until 21:00 or 22:00.
I was curious with respect to places like the Tate that are really only partly state funded (30%) so I'd consider it reasonable for them to approve the most "worthy" 30% of requests.
Edit: here's a screenshot https://i.imgur.com/xTmYLgv.jpg. The left-hand side is the online viewer, while the right is the downloaded image viewed in the mac preview app. The download is obviously much higher quality.
It kind of bugs me that they can't get this right.
However, I would expect the online tiled image viewer to show the full, high quality image - at least, when zoomed in.
Can anyone recommend a way of a layperson getting them printed in decent quality, say on canvas, for hanging in the home? Is there a good online service that does this where I can upload one of these hi-res images?
The ones I've seen are mostly glossy photo paper for family portraits, rather than the use case of replicating oil paintings.
You'll probably get copyright questions if you submit an professional artwork, but if you can show it is in the public domain they might do it. I've never tried.
For context, I've been trying to learn color theory and put it into practice in photography. One of the things you could do to train yourself is to look at how the great artists of the past used color - of course if you have a great eye, maybe this comes naturally to you, but for me, I'd have to upload it to some site like color.adobe.com and have it extract the color scheme manually.
Ever since I started, I've been having so much trouble downloading photographs of the art work that I just started taking screenshots and using those instead. Kind of sad that what is our collective cultural history cannot be widely used because the photographer who took a photo of the art work didn't chose to make their high-res photo widely available.
I should also plug Google's Arts & Culture Chrome extension. It can show you a new piece of artwork on the "new tab" splash page, rotating either every 24 hours or every tab. It's been a great way for me to get exposed to artwork and artists that I may not have found otherwise. My only complaint is that the set of works is somewhat small and after a year of use (with 24 hour rotations) you will start to notice repeats.
Maybe there's a whole literature on this subject, but I'm way too thinly spread among interests and would love to know if there's something that's already done with standard parts to address this problem.
Pretrained-CNN --> UMAP --> HDBSCAN
can turn out relatively reasonable results, especially if the UMAP you use for the clustering is to more than 2 or 3 dimensions (often 5 to 20 is good, depending on the data). You can, of course, still use a 2D UMAP to visualize the results. If you want such a pipeline packaged up then consider the PixPlot package, designed for exactly this use case, from the Yale Digital Humanities Lab: https://github.com/YaleDHLab/pix-plot
* Disclaimer: I am highly biased, as an author of both HDBSCAN and UMAP implementations.
So can I use them on my game?
Sure I could hack it together myself with an raspberry pi or something, but it would be great to have something that “just worked” that I could put in different rooms around the home.
"Further, one person will be allowed to walk their dog on a leash at a time. However, Rutte asked that people not try to skirt the rules by arranging for a "loaner dog" if Parliament approves the curfew. "
"If you're going to pass around your dog among the whole family so everyone can go out late into the night, that's just really stupid."
Enterprising folks are already offering their dogs for rent.
Insert rust joke about the borrow checker here...
Even more enterprising folks are researching whether walking cats is permitted and whether small rodents can be typecast to the class of 'dog'.
Deliverpoo, aka Poober Walkies: 24/7 doorstep delivery dog rental, guaranteed well fed and ready to go.
Need to go out for brisk jog through the city at night to meet up with a drug dealer or pimp? Rent a fully loaded Doberman or German Shepherd to accompany and defend you.
Feel more like a slow romantic moonlit walk along the beach? Rent an adorable economy wiener dog.
It seems like half the government reactions to lock down is a good idea based on the understanding of virus transmission, and the other half is just security theater. Does this hurt the government's own efforts? Any reasonable person will understand that they aren't hurting anyone by walking outside near no one. Or two people from the same household walking their dog at night near no one. This may make people generally less likely to follow all the rules, because they see that half the rules are just made up nonsense.
So while unpleasant, the amount of security theater isn't particularly high.
People will always try to avoid the rules, so in this kind of stuff enforcement is really hard. Better to have hard but short lived restrictions.
The real reason is that you're not allowed to coop up with guests in your home, but the police is not allowed to enter private residences and enforce that. So the night-time curfew is now being floated as the one thing that they can enforce to discourage people spending their evening with friends. Of course, it does nothing to discourage day-time visits, and I suspect evenings-with-friends will now turn into adult sleepover parties, but I guess we're still big on symbolism.
In my opinion, it'd be better if the government just declared the battle against Covid lost. They've tried for a year to appeal to the better nature of our citizens, and those citizens have democratically elected not to care about Covid. But at the same time, I know that openly tossing the towel will only lead to more people ignoring the measures.
It'd be nice if museums could do that work themselves, when they can do the work to make an API. No I won't make an account.
Considering that this option is available, it's odd that people buy, to pick a divisive example, Thomas Kinkade prints:
There are a couple wallpaper apps for the Roku of great pictures, but they are just a few dozen images which just get really old after a while and I go back to the clock screensaver.
The same with the Comcast cable box.
A screensaver with 10,000 pictures of great art, randomly selected and displayed, would be wonderful.
Apparently the images cannot be downloaded off the website without an account. That's disappointing.
I checked, and while there doesn't seem to be a collection for the Rijksmuseum, a certain "NL_Archivist" has been busy uploading images from Het Utrechts Archief the past few days: https://archive.org/details/@nl_archivist
I wouldn't be surprised if they continued with the Rijksmuseum collection afterwards.
Under what legal arguments can the Rijksmuseum do this? Or, alternatively, how can those museums that do so prevent copies of their works?
Copyright? Wouldn't that have expired long ago?
Edit: I understand the reasoning behind preventing flash photography of the paintings---it damages them. But that's not really what I'm asking about.
For photographs of out-of-copyright works, the question if the photo is itself a creative work protected by copyright is answered differently depending on jurisdiction. In the US and, by extension, for Wikimedia Commons, it generally isn't. In some European countries, it is.
I would generally subscribe to the idea that such photos are not protected. But it isn't quite as obvious as one might think. Taking high-quality photos of these artworks does involve a lot of work and, on occasion, maybe even creativity. What if I edit the photo afterwards to bring out the details? What if I chose special lighting conditions that interact with the pigments of the specific materials used?