February 8, 2010: New York City Story # 3

  1. [Note: These stories happened while I was staying in Brooklyn for much of January. As with much of this blog, these stories deal with race.]

January 9, 2010, Brooklyn Museum:

My dear friend Lynne has taken the train from Boston early this morning so that she and I can go to the Brooklyn Museum—she especially wants to see Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party,” part of the museum’s permanent exhibit since 2007.

It’s a Saturday; the place is packed. As so often happens in NYC, I am again struck by how many more people of color are here (the same thing happens on the subway, in the supermarket, etc, etc.) . That we’re in a museum begs me to consider how often I see anyone except white people in Boston’s cultural institutions. Answer: very, very few.

After Lynne and I sate ourselves on Chicago’s sumptuous banquet (Overhead: a little girl, wisely held in her mother’s arms, asks: “Can I sit there?” “We can all sit here,” her mother tells her.), we wander through other exhibits, opting out of the “Who Shot Rock and Roll” show because it’s so packed.

We find ourselves in a large exhibit hall adjoining a glass and steel storage area containing shelves and shelves of beautiful stuff. Already reeling from taking in so much—”museumitis”—although I’m curious to see what’s in this sort-of-displayed-but-not-really gallery, I don’t walk in.

But I reflect, as I did re the treasures I’d once found on Lynchburg’s Legacy Museum of African American History shelves: What gets displayed in any museum? And who decides?