In many ways, museums are like living things. They inhale culture like oxygen, and they grow, and change, and even reinvent themselves. Museums are aware of contemporary issues and trends, and they also serve as memory banks of ancient arts and practices. Museums make people happy; they make people smile. Just like people, they are greatly influenced by those that care about them.
I started thinking about museums in this way when I learned that the Metropolitan Museum of Art would soon be commemorating Vogue’s iconic editor Anna Wintour. The renowned arts institution, fondly referred to as simply “the Met,” announced plans earlier this month to name the building that houses its costume institute after the notoriously icy fashionista. The Anna Wintour Costume Center will be open to the public starting on May 8th, after extensive renovations are made to the space.
In this way, Wintour, who has served as a trustee of the Met since the late 1990s and has helped with impressive fundraising initiatives, is becoming a part of the museum in the same way you share genetic traits with your parents. The Costume Center has its own identity, and yet, it wouldn’t be so pronounced if not for the work that Wintour has done to build the impressive costume program.
Anna Wintour is just one of the many names commemorated in the wings of the Met. Some of the other sections named after prominent museum contributors include the Henry Kravis Wing, which is devoted to European sculpture and decorative Renaissance arts; the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing that features the arts of Africa and Oceania; and the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing, which is full of contemporary art. These are just a handful of the many individuals that have helped to make the Met one of the most esteemed arts institutions in the world.
One could argue that museums are indeed like living things, but ones that have achieved immortality. What do you think?