Decolonizing museums We must be wary of the delusional puritanism

Decolonizing museums: We must be wary of the “delusional puritanism that is invading the world of museums,” says John Porter

In an interview with the Stéphan Bureau podcast, art historian John Porter was highly critical of the “extinguishing dynamic” introduced at the National Gallery of Canada in recent months through its strategy to decolonize museology and re-elevate eclipsed artists became.

“We are destroying the garden with the goal of eventually planting a missing flower, which is almost incomprehensible to me,” the former director general of the Musée du Québec, which became the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec under his direction, told Stéphan Bureau during his appearance on an episode of Contact.

“You have to be purer than pure. I find it absolutely unbearable,” he lamented, denouncing the ideological grid that guides the selection of certain museums.

According to him, institutions should always “add rather than delete”. “You don’t grow up sweeping people away, even if you pretend to look far ahead,” he argued.

“The entire history of art is made up of exceptional figures, men or women, who were not necessarily exemplary in their lives, but who left absolutely exceptional works.” “It does not mean that this part of history should be erased,” he added, specifying that the removal of an artist of the caliber of Picasso, Courbet or Caravaggio violated the duties of the institutions.

“Let time do its work. Let’s do all the necessary objective investigations and remedial actions. Let’s do it with really open blinders to understand the phenomena and tell ourselves that we will add something to what others have previously put on the table,” the historian also hinted.

He also recalled that in history and art history, “we are talking about time, and time in some cases goes back centuries, even millennia.

The Contact podcast is available on QUB radio.