Quote of Note | James Cuno

“In a profound way, the museum experience is a critical one, which is to say it begins by seeing the object—in the case of art museums, the work of art—as in itself it really is and not as our predilections and prejudices think it to be. The opportunity to look hard and long at works of art, to have our first impressions changed and deepened, our expectations challenged and rearranged, reconciled to the works on display, is the promise of art museums. The works of art preceded us. Experiencing them, as they are, requires that we put aside our self-centeredness. And this is good, in the sense put forward by the English moral philosopher Iris Murdoch when she said, ‘Anything which alters consciousness in the direction of unselfishness, objectivity, and realism is to be connected with virtue.'”

James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, in his new book Museums Matter: In Praise of the Encyclopedic Museum (University of Chicago Press)