The MOA will soon be featuring the long-awaited Carl Bloch exhibit entitled Carl Bloch: The Master’s Hand. Opening November 12, 2010 on the museum’s main floor, this exhibit will literally bring viewers into Danish churches. Over ten years in the making, the show includes five magnificent altarpieces, a major accomplishment and gathering never before seen (in an all Bloch show). These altarpieces have not been reunited since their original placement in separate churches during the early 1800s. Alongside the altarpieces, are featured Bloch’s more humorous lithographs and etchings such as “The Roman Barber,” as well as more serious depictions of Jesus Christ. Dawn Pheysey, the curator of religious art, has traveled to Denmark and Sweden multiple times throughout these ten years to gain connections, establish trust, and create networks with European curators.
If Bloch seems unfamiliar to you, I am certain you have unknowingly seen his works in LDS Meeting Houses and as a main artist in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ new publication The Gospel Art Book. Understanding the significance of Carl Bloch to the LDS community, I find myself extremely disappointed in the direction the MOA has chosen to take for the show's education. For this exhibition, it has been decided that the docent program of guided tours will not be effective. Rather, an iPad will be given to small groups of individuals as they enter the exhibit. On this iPad, small icons will represent each altarpiece and, when touched, will bring up information for viewers.
I am thoroughly discouraged by this effort to educate the community. I worry that viewers will be looking more at electronic devices than discovering the beautiful altarpieces for themselves. After ten years of work to get these works, the community will be more prone to gaze upon an iPad than the art. Learning opportunities, as I see it, will inevitably decrease as human interaction decreases.
What are your thoughts on this new implementation? Do you believe this way of educating the public will be effective?