The art gallery generally, not just Manchester has an ecliptic mix of people of all persuasions and social standings; I think that the founders of these long standing establishments would be amazed about who is coming through the doors.
When these monumental structures were built to show the art, money and power of the select few, I am sure that it was never imagined that a group of mothers with prams & children would arrive for a morning chat or a wannabe illustrator would be sitting in an overpriced cafe writing this overture; but as art has changed throughout the ages, so the landlords that house the art have had to change with it.
The innards of this place of worship have changed dramatically & for the better; but have the people who manage the place changed with it?
I believe that it is all dependant on when the building was built; the more modern the premises then the greater emphasis on change from the people in charge, whilst the elder sites have been dragged kicking & screaming into evolution. Sitting in this gallery cafe I look around and see the mothers meeting, the students on their first gallery trip, not quite knowing the etiquette of museum life and the suits in the corner that look like they’re not doing very much work for a large wage.
So ask the question: ‘Is this how a gallery should be?’ 99% of these cafes’ & gift shops are identical up and down the land, from one establishment to the next. Surely someone with some form of authority at one of these places can veer away from the mundane and entice me to visit a shop or a cafe without even wanting to look at the artwork?
I want a zip wire from the 4th floor that drops me right into my seat in the cafe; I want to see a fully working farm yard next to the Picasso; I want to stumble over a step and be caught by my very own bodyguard called Stanley who says to me “Evening Pilchard”.
I could say that this is why it is, and people do come in for the art; but that would be a lie. It’s a matter of lack of concepts, imagination, ideas and the balls to have a go at something new.
Manchester Art Gallery 10/09/10.