Historian: Museums Need to ‘Reconsider’ European Art Exhibits Because … White Supremacy

Painting by Leonardo Da Vinci

College Fix, December 30, 2018

A Philadelphia-based art historian and curator believes exhibitions of European art in American museums should be “reconsidered” in light of “a surge in white supremacist violence” across the country.

Alexander Kaufmann says that “[b]ecause the centering of Europe is baked into the architecture” of museums, and “usually inhabit the largest and most central galleries,” people might not notice a connection to white supremacy.

“But white supremacists do,” he adds ominously.

“Europe’s cultural prestige is their evidence for the racial superiority of white America,” Kaufmann writes in Hyperallergic. White supremacists and white nationalists gather at museums because that’s “where Europe’s cultural patrimony is most visibly singled out as exceptional.”


Here’s some of what Kaufmann proposes:

* Disrupt the mythos of a singular triumphant civilization encompassing all of Western Europe and extending from Ancient Greece to today. {snip} Against the fantasy of commonality within “Fortress Europe,” we must learn how to tell the story of Europe’s historical disharmony and integration in global geographies of empire, trade, and migration.

* {snip} Muslims, women, queer people, and people of color pervade the history of European art. After centuries of minimization, we must call attention to their presence.

* Tell the histories of our collections. In November, Decolonize This Place activists occupied the Egyptian galleries at the Brooklyn Museum with a banner reading, “How was this acquired? By whom? For whom? At whose cost?” {snip}

Lastly, the “overwhelming whiteness” of museum staffs must be addressed, Kaufmann states, as currently there is “no effort specifically directed towards diversifying European Art.”


Original Article