terence riley talks to artblog.net
Post #709 • January 16, 2006, 10:21 AM • 35 Comments
Artblog.net: People have debated about the relationship between the building and the collection at MAM. MAM has said for a long time that a new building will make it possible to expand the collection; detractors have insisted that the miniscule collection hardly justifies a new building and they're putting the cart before the horse. How would you convince the detractors?
Terence Riley: Despite my love of architecture, if you can only have one, I think it is more important for a museum to have a good collection than a good building. But I also think a good building for art is part of a whole range of assets that makes a museum appealing for not only the public but for collectors as well.
Artblog.net: We've heard quite a bit about the new building but have not heard much about your artistic or curatorial intentions for MAM. How would you describe your aesthetic when it comes to art? What are your criteria for the hiring of new curators? How do you plan to alter the programming at MAM, if at all?
Terence Riley: I am still deep in the learning curve as far as all of these questions. As far as an underlying philosophy that might guide all of these decisions in the future, I would point to Italo Calvino's characterization of contemporary culture from his Six Memos for the Next Millennium: "The heavy machines still exist but now they obey the commands of weightless bits." In other words, we are now at a moment where the culture is formed by two poles: a 20th Century legacy that defines us in many ways as well as a nascent future with its own paradigm that promises to be as eventful as the near past. This "in between-ness" is not something that is going to pass in a few years and it has influenced the way I think about many contemporary cultural topics.
Artblog.net: You said in your interview with Tyler Green, "What I find interesting is that Miami's success is of course going to depend on support from local community." What does "support from local community" mean to you, and how do you plan to cultivate that support?
Terence Riley: As with politics, all museums are local. They are frequently populated by tourists but they can't really survive without local support: from civic and community leaders, from collectors and patrons, from the public, etc. Support can be a bond issue, donations, attendance - all of it contributes to the fiscal as well as civic health of a public institution.
Artblog.net: The tone of the communication coming out of MAM seems to presuppose that the Museum Park scenario is a foregone conclusion. As far as I know, MAM still has to raise somewhere between $100 million and $200 million from a possibly unsympathetic public and collector base. It also has to win approval from the public to convert the open parkland into a museum site. In your estimation, what are the chances of Museum Park happening, on a percentage scale? What's the backup plan?
Terence Riley: Without underestimating the amount of hard work necessary to see the museum project through to completion, as well as the twists and turns that inevitably lie in the road ahead, I am convinced of the viability and the potential for great success in the Museum Park plans.
Artblog.net: MAM press materials (PDF) say that you "will develop an ambitious permanent collection strategy through a sound, strategic approach to growth." Realizing that you haven't developed it yet, how would you describe your collecting priorities in broad terms? Hypothetically, given the ability to acquire anything at all, what are the first three objects you would select?
Terence Riley: Again, a bit premature in terms of getting specific about policies but I think that three works that are emblematic of Calvino's characterization of the New Millennium might be Torqued Ellipse by Richard Serra, Reticularea by Gego and virtually anything by Gerhard Richter.