Globalization, Information Overload, and What They Mean for Art Museums

Richard Armstrong (L) and Hans Ulrich Obrist (R) speaking before Asia Society members in Hong Kong on May 27, 2010. (57 min.)

HONG KONG, May 27, 2010 - Are museums around the world becoming too similiar? Two of the art world's most influential players think so.

"We do suffer from an overly homogenized view of contemporary art, and our job is to make sure this doesn't happen," said Richard Armstrong, Director of the Guggenheim Museum in New York, speaking at Asia Society Hong Kong Center. "We should look at things from many different points of view."

"The best way is for the intellect of a museum not to be a monoculture," he said. "We use the term globalization, although this is very naïve."

Hans Ulrich Obrist, a contemporary art curator, historian, and the Co-Director of Exhibitions and Director of International Projects at London's Serpentine Gallery said museums are laboratories for new ideas. He said art, more recently, has changed very much.

"It used to be possible for a curator or director to know everything," Obrist said. "That has changed so much over the past 20 years. How can we take into account the proliferation of new centers, alliances, and collaborations?"

Armstrong, speaking on Hong Kong's West Kowloon Cultural District, a project designed to meet the long-term infrastructure needs of the city's arts and cultural development, suggested that buildings themselves "could serve as magnets."

"Architecture is a physical manifestation of society's values," Armstrong said. "We need to honor the ambition of society in making a kind of architecture that contributes to the social fabric and part of the need is for people to see something, aspire to, and endorse."

Obrist, on the other hand, advised Hong Kong not to isolate its art.

"It is very important that there are protected spaces where you can be alone with art," Obrist said. "To be with art is what we ask."

Reported by Penny Tang, Asia Society Hong Kong Center