|Program from NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial|
So imagine my concern when I arrived at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) to see NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial and there were no wall labels! Instead we were given “programs,” as if the museum’s jealously of all those Broadway Playbills had just become too much to take. I still would have preferred wall labels, but I was willing to try out this new idea of a museum program. Unfortunately the diagrams in said program were quite confusing and some of the listings were obviously blatantly wrong. It made for a fairly confusing experience.
|A confusing diagram from the MAD program.|
I left MAD not particularly concerned about this development. But just a few days later I wandered into the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and headed for the exhibit Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963 – 2010. And guess what? No wall labels! Instead there were pedestals filled with “programs.”
Both the MAD and MoMA programs shared some similarities: printed with black ink only
on cheap, newsprint-like paper; approximately the same size, similar to a
Parade magazine; filled with diagrams of all the galleries with numbers that
corresponded to the art listings. Where
they differed is in user-friendliness.
The MoMA program was much clearer and easier to follow.
|Program fro MoMA|
If all this isn’t alarming enough, just a few days ago, I was making my daily review of stories on Bloun Artinfo and came across this story. In it, Scott Indrisek talks about attending the press day for MoMA’s upcoming Christopher Williams show, The Production Line of Happiness. According to Indrisek, “. . . for some critics in attendance, the truly hot-button issue seemed to be the exhibition’s lack of wall labels.” At this point, one can only wonder if this rampant use of “programs” at museums might somehow signal the end of the wall label.
|A charming detail from the MoMA program.|
But don’t think I’m supporting this new trend. I like my wall labels. And so I beseech art fans everywhere, join the cause. “Wall Labels for the People!”