Exhibitions of the future will be more friendly and geared to the community
Edinburgh — How do you shelter a reconstructed Egyptian temple without overinsulating it from visitors? How do you plan a portable craft exhibition to take it on tour in the third world?
How, in short, do you bring art closer to people?
These are the kinds of questions art experts are asking themselves these days , and their answers hint that art exhibitions of the future will be more inviting, more accessible, more geared to the community than they are now.
A growing concern for the needs of the art-viewing public echoed here throughout a recent international conference entitled ''Toward the Housing of Art in the 21st Century,'' a curtain raiser to this year's Edinburgh Festival.
Richard Demarco, a dynamic artist-gallery owner in the city, used his worldwide connections in the field of art to assemble an impressive panel of expert speakers. Their curatorial concerns ranged from New York's Metropolitan Museum, with it's staff of hundreds, to the Orchard Gallery in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, run by a director, a typist-secretary, and a janitor.
The budgets mentioned ran from millions of dollars at national level to the 9 ,000 dollars allocated last year to a sculpture project in the Grizedale Forest in the northwest of England, where the public can wander freely. The topics discussed were as diverse as sheltering a reconstructed Egyptian temple, producing craft exhibitions suitable for touring the third world, and running a printmaking workshop in Aberdeen.
''At this sort of occasion, there is always a tendency to get bogged down in spaces and places, bricks and mortar. What you must not forget is your most important concern - people,'' speaker John Drummond reminded delegates from art galleries and museums all over the world.
''Too often visitors to galleries are made to feel the contents are the private property of the staff. . . . Remember people - the people who go to see the art and the people who make it, the artists.''
There seemed little doubt at this conference that the public of the future is likely to prefer a less overwhelming, less autocratic, less strident presentation of art. Currently, the Louisiana Museum near Copenhagen is a good example. Though formal, it already provides this sort of setting with an evident concern for human scale and natural beauty much appreciated by visitors.
On its own more modest terms the Grizedale Forest Sculpture Park is a model way of bringing art, resident artmaker, and public together.
The actual design of the Munchengladbach Museum in West Germany by Viennese architect Hans Hollein made it a fine example of the gallery itself as a work of art. This, some felt, raises problems of competition for the visitor's attention , while incidentally providing a chic setting for glossy magazine advertisements.