More on museum parties

The MSM is only three days behind the RBC on the hot issue of museum evening social events. We congratulate the Post.

The ‘reviews’ gathered in this group nicely illustrate the tension this marketing initiative raises (and the careless flacky reporting typical of arts coverage other than straight reviews). On the one hand, a bunch of people get together in the evening and have fun drinking, dancing, listening to music,and meeting each other; nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, the music for the most part is mostly ephemeral pop, engaging on a completely different plane from the art, and there’s no evidence this is building real museum visiting habits where people come back and engage with art worth attending to seriously. Or that it’s not: now that these events have been going on for a while, shouldn’t someone have survey research results to answer this question? What did people actually do at these events? Was anyone looking at pictures? There’s no suggestion that they were; again, deeply absorbing the subtlety of great paintings is a silly way to spend party time and lighting a party to see art is just wonky and stuffy. But museums are in the art business, and one would think the reporters would at least ask some of the guests if real art, perhaps on a future visit during calmer hours, figured at all in their plans.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.