I thought it must be a fluke. I am not looking hard enough, not in the right section of the website, it could not possibly not be here. But no, after numerous attempts to locate the darn thing, the mission statement of the Phoenix Art Museum was nowhere to be found.
It is not often a difficult thing to find a museum’s statement of purpose, its raison d’etre. Whether it is two lines and bright pink like the mission statement of the New Museum in NYC that reads simply, “New Art, New Ideas,” or a paragraph of descriptive language as featured on the SFMOMA website (you can read it here), most institutions that are considered public and non-profit want to demonstrate a high level of transparency to their constituents. Most museum professionals consider posting your mission statement to be of the utmost importance, and one of the first and most important steps to establishing organizational transparency and accountability. For museums, their mission and vision statements are a guiding force in every penny spent, every art work acquired, every event planned. What is the mission that drives a vibrant and popular institution like the Phoenix Art Museum? They are definitely not making it easy for a member of the public like me to find it.
The 21st-century museum should strive to show itself as more of a public forum. The long-held idea that it is a hallowed space dedicated solely to the preservation of art and the education of the masses continues to ring true with a majority of the public. To me this is a very “us-them” mentality that must be eliminated if our institutions are to continue to prosper, if we want people to continue caring about what museums are doing. By taking a mission statement out of the public consciousness, you are basically telling me your purpose does not matter. On that note, thank you for reading my Friday verbal tantrum and have a wonderful weekend!
(The Phoenix Art Museum’s mission could be posted on the website after all. If you can find it for me, post it as a comment at once! The Museum’s website is www.phxart.org.)
Image found here.