Elsewhere online
September 02, 2014

Opinion: Break Up Large Museums to Save Them

Large museums, some struggling with gallery crowding and other problems, could benefit from being reorganized into smaller, more manageable components, writes arts blogger Hrag Vartanian in a guest editorial for Al Jazeera America. Officials should "consider aggressively building outposts or prioritizing longer-term partnerships with smaller or newer institutions that could benefit from such relationships," he writes.

The National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Museums in Washington are national institutions with voluminous collections, much of which is held in storerooms never to be seen. There is no reason why all of that material should be held exclusively in the capital, Mr. Vartanian says.

He points to Greece as an example. About a decade ago, the country began working on disbursing museum holdings from centrally located museums to locations across the country. This decentralization effort is helping to place art and other artifacts in geographic context while providing easier access and spreading tourist dollars. France has also started to do the same, Mr. Vartanian writes.