The Changing Role of Museums in Society
Publication:
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 18 Apr 1991, p. 432-443


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The Changing Role of Museums in Society


Some works of art and their potent reminder of the degree to which what is happening in the art world has a direct bearing on our lives. Reflecting upon the nature and importance of our cultural institutions. The vital role museums play in shaping society's vision of itself. The inevitable intertwining with the economy. Some surprising figures with regard to revenue from public museums and art galleries across Canada, and the art industry as compared with other industries. Cultural industries, and museums in particular, as stimulators of a wide range of other economic benefits, such as the rejuvenation of declining urban areas and the attraction of increased numbers of tourists. Cultural institutions as focal points for the development of community pride and cooperative endeavours. Some examples of these aspects of cultural institutions. Cultural institutions as more than just repositories of works of art of theatrical productions. Museums as reflections of the extraordinary expansion of artistic activity in Ontario that has taken place in recent decades and that has notably improved the quality of life. The vast array of culture resources available. The emergence of a self-image of society through artistry. A strong and confident self-image as instrumental in motivating a society's economic and social success. Art as a language. The low priority of culture in terms of government spending; some figures. Other sources of funding. The relationship between society and museums as more than a one-way street. Commitments and mandates of the Art Gallery of Ontario. The role of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Some undertakings at the AGO. The responsibilities of museums and other cultural institutions. Museums as providers of the bridge between art and society.