9
Sep 04

Context may not be everything, but lack of context is much worse

Blog 7 • 164 views

Context may not be everything, but lack of context is much worse. Tourism is partially about trying to work out how different countries work. You do not speak the language, you may not be able to read the labels, or understand what is going on. That is the day to day reality of traveling, so it is surprising when something after the tourist shilling makes it just as hard. For instance in Bruges, a remarkably anglophiliac town, the museums made life hard rather for the tourist. In particular the Memling Museum, which had no labels on its exhibits at all.

They did those long backscratcher/mobile phone things which would tell you about the art, which I suppose would be acceptible if
a) you weren’t deaf (and surely the visual arts are of particular interest to the deaf)
b) the stopped when they told you what it was.
Instead these things have wonderfully designed soundscapes which often bang on for ages about the flax industry in Flanders before getting down to who made the art. And then telling us why it is great. That bit I want to do myself.

In the end the museum was more notable for its physicality than many of its exhibits (except the last couple of pieces, highlighted on that website). Perhaps not worth its eight euro entrance in comparison with the Groeninge Museum (especially as that got you in free to the Brangwyn Museum.

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