Tuesday, September 07, 2010


X is for don't touch

Museum exhibits live in the space between protect and present. The art is almost always there to see and not touch and that's tough lines for sculpture, touch’s front line in the art category. The principle is that an object may be ok with one touch but with many it risks the death of a thousand cuts. And so the barriers, stanchions, taped lines, light beams, skied paintings and, yes, do not touch signs sprinkled round the galleries like measles. And that’s not to mention guards, staff and docents most of whom apply gentle persuasion and stop short of the direct approach taken by Kah Mun Rah in the museum flick Night at the museum: battle of the Smithsonian, “How dare you! If you touch that again I shall kill you right now.”
Illustration: Pippin Barr