Transcript: Maxwell Anderson | Jan 25, 1998

(Rhythmic string and wind music plays)

In animation, a word in pink slides by against a gray background as hands paint strokes using paintbrushes, play a piano, and touch as in a ballet performance.

The title of the show reads “Dialogue.”

The title of the episode pops up against an image of Richard Ouzounian and a guest sitting in a lounge: “Maxwell Anderson. Director: Art Gallery of Ontario.”

Them, Richard appears facing the screen. He's in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short side-parted blond hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a dark blue suit, a striped shirt, and a blue tie.

He says WELCOME TO
DIALOGUE.
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
THINGS ARE NEW AT THE ART
GALLERY OF ONTARIO THESE DAYS.
NEW HOURS, A NEW
LOGO, A NEW DIRECTION.
IT'S TIME TO SPEAK TO THE MAN
WHO IS REASONABLY NEW AT THE
JOB AND RESPONSIBLE
FOR ALL OF THESE THINGS.
THE GALLERY'S DIRECTOR
MAXWELL ANDERSON.
THIS
DIALOGUE
IS
WITH MAXWELL ANDERSON.

Maxwell is in his late forties, clean-shaven, with short dark brown hair gelled back. He’s wearing a black suit, white shirt, and checked brown tie.

Richard continues SO YOUR GRANDFATHER, WHO
YOU ARE NAMED AFTER, GREAT
AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHT, ALSO ONE
OF MY FAVOURITE LYRICISTS,
WROTE A LYRIC ONCE
IN A SONG CALLED
HOW CAN YOU TELL AN AMERICAN?
AND HE WAS DESCRIBING THE KIND
OF PERSON, AND SAYS, IT TAKES
AWAY HIS APPETITE TO
LIVE BY A BOOK OF RULES.
NOW, YOU HAVE DONE SO MORE
EXTRAORDINARY THINGS,
I STARTED THINKING HE MUST HAVE
BEEN IMAGINING HIS GRANDSON
IN ADVANCE.
YOU'VE BEEN A
RULE-BREAKER ALL ALONG.
HAVE YOU BEEN LIKE
THAT AS A KID?

Maxwell says I DON'T KNOW, I THINK WHEN I
WAS A KID, I WAS VERY MINDFUL
OF ALL THE RULES, SURE, BUT I
WAS ALSO A BIT OF A... TO THE
SIDE OF THE RULES AT TIMES,
IN SCHOOL, OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL.
BUT I WENT TO SCHOOL WITH A
LOT OF KIDS WHO WERE IN A
POSITION SOCIALLY,
AN ELEVATED POSITION.
AND I WAS A FACULTY BRAT.
SO FOR ME TO MAKE MY WAY
THROUGH THAT UNIVERSE REQUIRED
A LITTLE BIT OF
RULE BREAKING, SURE.

Richard says IT WAS INTERESTING BECAUSE
SOMEBODY SAID, OH, YES, HE'S
SILVER SPOON, AND I SAID, NO,
I THINK HE'S MORE IVORY TOWER
THAN SILVER SPOON.
IT WAS A UNIVERSITY FAMILY.

Maxwell says RIGHT, RIGHT.

Richard says COLUMBIA?

Maxwell says NO, NO SILVER SPOONS.
MY GRANDFATHER SPENT
ALL OF HIS MONEY.
AND HE DID IT IN A WAY THAT
WAS PROFLIGATE AND ENJOYABLE,
BUT HE SOLD ALL THE OCEAN
FRONT PROPERTY IN MAINE AND
BOUGHT A NEW CAR EVERY YEAR.
THAT PRETTY MUCH
DISAPPEARED FOR HIS SON.

Richard says SO IT WAS TO ACTUALLY
TEACH TO MAKE A LIVING.

Maxwell says WELL, MY FATHER
WAS A PROFESSOR.
HE'S A PROFESSOR EMERITUS
AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.
AND WE LIVED COMFORTABLY
ON THE UPPER WEST SIDE,
THE WAY ACADEMICS DO.
BUT THE KIDS I WENT TO
SCHOOL WITH TENDED TO BE
VERY PRIVILEGED.
SO I SENSED A BIT OF THAT LIFE,
BUT I DIDN'T PARTAKE IN IT.

Richard says WHAT WAS YOUR THRUST WHEN YOU
WERE GROWING UP, IN TERMS OF,
IF YOU EVER SAT DOWN, I DON'T
THINK YOU WOULD HAVE SAID,
GEE, I WANT TO BE RUNNING
MAJOR ART GALLERIES ONE DAY.

Maxwell says I'M NOT SURE ABOUT THAT.
I THOUGHT WHEN I WAS ABOUT
10 OR 12 THAT WORKING AT
THE METROPOLITAN
MUSEUM WOULD BE FUN.
ALL THOSE SUITS OF ARMOUR,
I MEAN, HOW COULD YOU NOT?
I ASSUMED YOU'D POLISH THEM,
AND PROBABLY STAND AROUND A BIT
AND DUST THEM, BUT I WASN'T
SURE WHAT ELSE WAS INVOLVED.
BUT I DID HAVE A SENSE OF
MUSEUMS WHEN I WAS A BOY.
AT TIMES, FROM MY PARENTS, I
THINK IT WAS AN ADVERSARIAL
SENSE, WHEN WE WERE BEING
DRAGGED THROUGH EUROPE, A
COUPLE OF YEARS WORTH IN
SCHOOL, I WAS NOT DESPERATE
TO BREAK MY WAY INTO
GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS.
BUT I DID SO AND I
THINK I LEARNED A BIT.

Richard says GROWING UP IN NEW YORK, I
HAVE THIS IMAGE OF SOMEONE
GROWING UP ON THE WEST SIDE
NEAR COLUMBIA, AND IT'S A
PHENOMENAL MUSEUM CITY.
THERE ARE MUSEUMS DEVOTED TO
ALMOST EVERY SPECIALTY YOU CAN
THINK OF, FROM THE CITY OF
NEW YORK, TO THE THEODORE
ROOSEVELT MUSEUM, AND OF
COURSE THE GUGGENHEIM AND THE
FRICK, AND THE METROPOLITAN
MUSEUM OF ART, AND THE
WHITNEY, ETC., ETC.
A MUSEUM RICH CITY.
DID YOU PROWL THEM?
YOU TALKED ABOUT GOING AROUND
THE METROPOLITAN AND WANTING
TO BE AN ARMOUR BRAT.

Maxwell says YOU HAD TO GO TO FIELD TRIPS
AND DROP INTO THESE PLACES
AND SEE THEM.
THERE WAS A STUDY THAT
BRUNO BETTELHEIM DID
AROUND 1980 THAT SHOWED
THAT KIDS WHO GO TO MUSEUMS
AS PART OF A SCHOOL TOUR,
RARELY WANT TO RETURN AS ADULTS.
IN FACT, ONLY 3 PERCENT OF THE
ADULTS HE INTERVIEWED LATER
IN LIFE, CITED SCHOOL GROUP
TOURS AS A MOTIVATION TO RETURN.
AND 60 PERCENT SAID THEY
WANTED TO GO BACK, OR THEY
WERE COMING BACK TO MUSEUMS
BECAUSE THEY WENT TO MUSEUMS
WITH THEIR FAMILIES
AS A CHILD.
SO I'M NOT SURE I COULD LINK
IT TO THOSE SCHOOL TOURS.
I THINK MY PARENTS DID A GOOD
JOB TO TACTFULLY INTRODUCING
ME TO THE WORLD OF MUSEUMS
WITHOUT FORCING IT ON ME.

Richard says I KNOW ABOUT THE TIME YOU
FINISHED YOUR WORK AT HARVARD
YOU WERE WEDDED TO THE
WORLD OF FINE ARTS.
BUT WHAT WERE YOU DOING IN
DARTMOUTH WHERE YOU TOOK
YOUR UNDERGRAD?

Maxwell says I WAS TRYING TO FIND A WAY
TO BE SOMEHOW INVOLVED IN THE
LIFE OF MIND WITHOUT BEING A
COPYCAT OF MY FATHER OR MY
BROTHER, BOTH OF WHOM, FOR ME,
ARE TOWERING INTELLECTUALS.
MY FATHER HAS BEEN VOICE
OF AUTHORITY ON AMERICAN
LITERATURE FOR MANY, MANY
YEARS, AND MY BROTHER IS A
PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY, AND
HAS WRITTEN, RECENTLY, A TEXT
ON, HE TRANSLATED A TEXT
OF 18th CENTURY FRENCH
ENLIGHTENMENT THEORY, AND
REPURPOSED IT IN A FANCY
NUANCED ESSAY, AND I DON'T
UNDERSTAND HALF OF IT.
SO FOR ME, THAT WAS THE
LANDSCAPE I WAS GROWING UP IN.
I HAD TO DEFINE MYSELF
SEPARATELY FROM THAT.
AND FOR ME, THERE WAS ONE
THING I WAS PRETTY GOOD WITH,
WHICH WAS THINGS AND OBJECTS,
THE PHYSICAL WORLD.
AND THESE TWO GUYS WERE
FAIRLY METAPHYSICAL.
SO IT WAS A CHANCE TO THINK
ABOUT THE LIFE OF MIND, AND
OBJECTS AND ART HISTORY
IS PRETTY MUCH THE ROOT.
SO AT DARTMOUTH, I ENDED UP
MAJORING IN ART HISTORY
AND WAS INTERESTED IN A
MUSEUM CAREER THEN.

Richard says NOW, THE FIELD YOU FINALLY
TOOK AS YOUR SPECIALTY WAS
CLASSICAL, I BELIEVE,
ROMAN AND GREEK.
WHERE DID THAT TURNING HAPPEN?
LIKE, WHY WAS THAT
WHAT FINALLY DREW YOU?

Maxwell says I JUST KEPT
WORKING BACKWARDS.
I STARTED IN CONTEMPORARY
ART IN COLLEGE, AND GOT
INTERESTED IN MEDIEVAL
ART, AND GOT INTERESTED,
ULTIMATELY, IN ANTIQUITIES.
BUT IT WAS LARGELY A SORT
OF VISIONARY PROFESSOR AT
DARTMOUTH WHO HAD THREE PhDs,
WHICH STRUCK ME AS A BIT
EXCESSIVE, BUT HE WAS
QUITE A ROLE MODEL.
AND HE HAD A LECTURE ABOUT
THE PARTHENON IN WHICH HE
DESCRIBED CRAWLING ALONG
THE TOP OF THE ARCHITRAVE
IN THE 1940s AND A LITTLE
PIECE OF IT BROKE OFF, AND HE
BROUGHT THAT BACK AND SHOWED
IT TO US IN THE CLASSROOM.
THERE WAS SOMETHING VERY
COMPELLING ABOUT HIS TEACHING.
AND HE MADE THE ANCIENT
WORLD COME ALIVE.
AND I CONNECTED ART HISTORY
THROUGH, BACKWARDS AND
FORWARDS TO ANTIQUITY
ALWAYS AS I DO TODAY.

Richard says ONCE YOU FINALLY GOT OUT WITH
ALL THE DEGREES, AND YOU HAD
THE OPPORTUNITY TO BREAK
INTO THE WORLD, WAS IT THE
METROPOLITAN YOU
WENT TO FIRST?

Maxwell says YEAH, I WAS THERE BEFORE I
FINISHED THE PhD BECAUSE I WAS
WORKING FOR VERY SENIOR GERMAN
SCHOLAR WHO GOES BY THE NAME
OF DIETRICH FELIX
VON BOTHMER EGLOFFSTEIN
AND IS A VERY FORMAL MAN.

Richard says WITH A NAME LIKE THAT,
YOU'D HAVE TO BE.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Maxwell Anderson. Director: Art Gallery of Ontario."

Maxwell says YEAH, HE'S QUITE A CHARACTER.
I SAW HIM A COUPLE OF WEEKS
AGO IN NEW YORK, AND HE'S
STILL SOLDIERING ON IN
THE STUDY OF CLASSICAL
ANTIQUITIES, IN
PARTICULAR GREEK VASES.
AND HE SAID, YOU CAN WORK HERE
IF YOU FINISH YOUR PhD WITHIN
THE NEXT TWO YEARS.
I WAS A SUMMER INTERN,
WORKING AT THE MET
AS A GRADUATE STUDENT.
SO I FELT THE NEED TO HURRY
UP AND FINISH SO I COULD HAVE
THE JOB, WHICH I DID.

Richard says WHAT WAS THE METROPOLITAN
LIKE IN THOSE DAYS?
THAT WAS DURING WHICH REGIME?

Maxwell says IT WAS THE TRANSITORY,
BETWEEN HOVING AND MONTEBELLO.
AND THE FIRST MEETING THAT
PHILIPPE HAD AS DIRECTOR
I WAS SITTING IN.
AND I WAS SITTING NEXT
TO ITALIAN ENGINEERS AND
PLUMBERS, AND BLUE BLOOD
CURATORS, AND THIS WHOLE
WONDERFUL MIX OF THE CULTURE
OF A MUSEUM OF PEOPLE WHO WORK
PUTTING THE LIGHT BULBS IN,
AND PEOPLE WHO WORK, IN SOME
WAYS, SCREWING THE IDEAS IN.
AND IT WAS A FASCINATING
MOMENT TO SEE THE BEGINNING OF
A CHANGE OF THAT INSTITUTION.
BUT TO ME, THE EXPOSURE WAS
LIMITED TO THE FACT THAT I
COULD GET GREAT TICKETS TO THE
TUT SHOW TO GIVE TO MY FAMILY.
I MEAN, I WASN'T REALLY
ENGAGED IN THE LIFE OF THE
INSTITUTION, OTHER THAN AS A
FLEDGLING DEPARTMENT ASSOCIATE.

Richard says WAS THERE A DEFINING MOMENT
FOR YOU WHEN YOU WENT FROM
BEING SOMEONE WHO PARTICIPATED
IN THE LIFE OF ART AT GALLERIES,
TO SOMEONE WHO WANTED TO TAKE
OVER THE REINS OF THEM AND
START WORKING AT THE
MANAGERIAL LEVEL?

Maxwell says I THINK WHEN I WAS A CURATOR
AT THE MET, WHICH FOLLOWED
THAT STAGE AS A YOUNG WANNABE,
THE OPPORTUNITIES TO THINK
ABOUT ADMINISTRATION
WERE MANY.
I WAS HEAD OF WHAT'S CALLED
THE CURATORIAL FORUM AT THE
MET, WHICH IS THE PROFESSIONAL
ASSOCIATION OF THE CURATORS
AND CONSERVATORS,
THE RESTORERS.
AND THAT GAVE ME A CHANCE
TO WORK DIRECTLY WITH THE
ADMINISTRATION, AND START TO
UNDERSTAND THE MECHANICS OF
HOW A MUSEUM WORKED, AS OPPOSED
TO HOW A DEPARTMENT THOUGHT.
AND THAT WAS QUITE
INTERESTING AND EXCITING.

Richard says IT MUST HAVE BEEN AROUND
THIS TIME THAT MUSEUMS WERE
REALIZING THEY HAD TO
REINVENT THEMSELVES.
BECAUSE I EVEN RECALL FROM
GOING TO THE GREAT MUSEUMS IN
NEW YORK CITY INTO THE '60s,
DECAY WAS STARTING TO SET IN.
IN THAT GOVERNMENT FUNDING WAS
NO LONGER PROVIDING ENOUGH
MONEY FOR PLACES
TO STAY OPEN FREE.
AND THE PUBLIC HAD STOPPED
GOING BECAUSE THEY STOPPED
BEING SEXY.
WHAT DID YOU FEEL ABOUT WALKING
INTO THAT KIND OF AN ERA?

Maxwell says TOM HOVING SET A CHANGE IN
MOTION THAT WAS VERY IMPORTANT
FOR THE METROPOLITAN, AND FOR
MANY OTHER MUSEUMS IN THE
1970s, WHICH WAS TO HITCH THE
WAGON TO THE EXHIBITION ENGINE.
UNTIL THAT TIME, IT WAS
EFFECTIVELY A WORLD IN WHICH
THERE WERE OCCASIONAL MAJOR
EXHIBITIONS, BUT THEY WEREN'T
ON A BUSINESS FOOTING, AND
THEY DIDN'T INVOLVE THE
EXPECTATION OF LARGE
FINANCIAL RETURN.
THEY WERE, IN ESSENCE,
DECORATIONS TO THE ACTIVITY,
RATHER THAN THE BASIC
MOTIVATING FACTOR FOR PEOPLE
WHO LIVED IN A CITY
TO GO TO THEIR MUSEUM.
THAT BEGAN AN INCREASE IN
ATTENDANCE WHICH HAS CONTINUED
TO THIS DAY.
AND LAST YEAR, THERE WERE 46
MILLION PEOPLE WHO WENT TO ART
MUSEUMS IN NORTH AMERICA.
WHICH IS UNBELIEVABLE.
THAT'S MORE THAN GO
TO SPORTING EVENTS.
AND BECAUSE WE TEND TO BE TOO
QUIET ABOUT WHAT WE DO IN ART
MUSEUMS, AND TOO KIND OF
GENTLEMANLY, WE DON'T TAKE THE
GLOVES OFF AND SAY, WAIT A
MINUTE, IF WE'RE DRAWING MORE
PEOPLE THAN GO TO SPORTING
EVENTS, WHY SHOULDN'T WE HAVE
MORE OF A PLACE AT THE TABLE?
THE TABLE BEING TOURISM
OR GOVERNMENT FUNDING OR
CORPORATE SUPPORT OR, IN
GENERAL, ANY KIND OF SUPPORT
THAT MIGHT SUSTAIN
OUR ACTIVITIES.

Richard says YOU MENTION AN INTERESTING
TOPIC BECAUSE THERE'S A GREAT
PARADOX HERE IS THAT ART
GALLERIES ARE OFTEN PERCEIVED
AS BEING AMONG, IF NOT THE
MOST ELITIST AND SPECIALIZED
OF THE VARIOUS ART FORMS.
BUT THEY ARE THE ONES THAT
ARE USUALLY MOST WITHIN
EVERYONE'S ECONOMICAL RANGE.

Maxwell says ABSOLUTELY.

Richard says WHY DO YOU THINK THE
PERCEPTION HAS BEEN ALLOWED TO
SPRING UP THAT ONLY THE TRULY
ELITE WOULD GO TO THE AGO?

Maxwell says PARTLY IT'S BECAUSE COMPARING
IT WITH THE WORLD OF SPORTS.
THE WORLD OF SPORTS IS IN
A COMMERCIAL ENVIRONMENT,
MEANING THERE IS A CONSTANT
MOTIVATION TO GET INFORMATION
ABOUT SPORTS OUT.
BECAUSE THE SUSTENANCE OF THAT
WORLD IS FROM THE VERY PEOPLE
WHO WANT TO GET THE
INFORMATION OUT AND WHO CAN
AFFORD IT.
IN OUR CASE, WE, AS MUSEUMS,
ARE ALWAYS STRUGGLING TO FIND
A WAY TO REACH AN AUDIENCE
BECAUSE WE DON'T HAVE AN
ENGINE OF WHATEVER
KIND IT MIGHT BE.
WE DON'T HAVE AN ESPN OR A
SPORTS NETWORK THAT WOULD
ALLOW THAT ENGINE TO DRIVE.

Richard says WE TALKED ABOUT
EXHIBITION-DRIVEN ATTENDANCE
AT MUSEUMS.
I REMEMBER FOR EXAMPLE WHEN
THE BARNES EXHIBIT WAS HERE,
I CAME SEVERAL TIMES AND
WITNESSED WHAT I CAME TO CALL
THE BARNES DANCE, WHICH WAS
THE WIFE TUGGING THE HUSBAND.
AND HE'D GO BACK THREE STEPS,
AND SHE'D PULL HIM ALONG TO
THE NEXT PAINTING.
AND THERE WERE OBVIOUSLY
PEOPLE GOING BECAUSE THEY FELT
IT WAS THE THING TO DO.
IT WAS THE EVENT OF THE
FALL YOU HAD TO GO TO.
DO THOSE PEOPLE RETURN, OR
HOW MANY OF THEM RETURN?

Maxwell says WE WEREN'T VERY SUCCESSFUL AT
CAPTURING INFORMATION ON WHO
CAME TO THE BARNES EXHIBITION
TO BE ABLE TO ANSWER THAT
QUESTION PRECISELY.
WE CAN SAY THE MEMBERSHIP
ROLES OF THE GALLERY GREW
CONSIDERABLY, AS THEY DO,
INEVITABLY, AT ANY MUSEUM THAT
HITCHES MEMBERSHIP TO AN
EXHIBITION, AND SAYS, IF YOU
JOIN, YOU CAN GET TICKETS TO
THIS EXHIBITION MORE EASILY,
OR WE WILL SEE TO IT THAT YOU
HAVE PRIVILEGED ACCESS TO IT.
BUT THEY TEND TO FALL
OFF VERY QUICKLY.
AND THE MONET EXHIBITION AT
THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO
RECENTLY DREW CLOSE TO
A MILLION VISITORS,
960,000 VISITORS.
THEIR MEMBERSHIP ROLLS SURGED,
AND THEY WILL DECLINE,
AS SURELY AS THEY SURGED.
SO WE'RE NOT VERY GOOD AT
QUANTIFYING THAT IN THE WAY
THAT ONE MIGHT EXPECT TO IN,
AGAIN, THE COMMERCIAL WORLD,
WHERE YOU ARE EXPECTED TO
VOLUNTEER INFORMATION ABOUT
YOUR LIFE HISTORY, YOUR CREDIT
CARD INFORMATION, WHATEVER
ELSE IT MIGHT BE.
WE TEND TO BE A LITTLE BIT
WITHDRAWN IN SOLICITING THAT
INFORMATION THAT WOULD
ALLOW US TO FOLLOW UP.
BUT WE HAVE A VERY AGGRESSIVE
TELEMARKETING CAMPAIGN,
WHICH, AT TIMES, WINS US THE
DISFAVOUR OF PEOPLE WHO ARE
TRYING TO ENJOY A
QUIET EVENING AT HOME.

Richard says DINNER.

Maxwell says WELL, WE TRY NOT TO CALL
AT DINNER TIME, ALTHOUGH,
EVERYBODY HAS A
DIFFERENT DINNER TIME.
BUT WE ARE NOT BASHFUL ABOUT
APPROACHING PEOPLE WHO HAVE
BEEN HERE, AND WHO MAY HAVE
A CHANCE TO RETURN, PERHAPS,
UNDER DIFFERENT
CIRCUMSTANCES, AS A MEMBER.

Richard says ALL OF THESE IDEAS YOU FOUND
AND FORMULATED, I HAVE A
FEELING MUST HAVE COME TO A
FAIR DEAL OF CRYSTALLIZATION
DURING YOUR STAY IN ATLANTA.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU DOWN THERE?

Maxwell says THE CHANCE TO BE A
MUSEUM DIRECTOR.
I HAD BEEN A CURATOR AT THE
METROPOLITAN, OR A GRADUATE
STUDENT IN A CURATORIAL
DEPARTMENT FOR TEN YEARS, AND
AS SO OFTEN IN AN INSTITUTION
OF THAT SCALE, I GOT TO A
POINT WHERE I WAS PLODDING
ALONG VERY HAPPILY, DOING WHAT
I WAS DOING AS A CURATOR, BUT
IT WAS CLEAR I COULDN'T GO UP
ANY HIGHER IN THE RANKS
BECAUSE PEOPLE ABOVE ME HAD
BEEN THERE JUST LONG ENOUGH
THAT THEY HAD SENIORITY.
AND THE CHANCE TO BE A MUSEUM
DIRECTOR AT THE AGE OF 31 WAS
PRETTY EXCITING.
ESPECIALLY A NEW MUSEUM BUILT
BY MICHAEL GRAVES, IN A CITY
THAT WAS VERY HOT AT THE TIME.
IT'S ALWAYS HOT, ACTUALLY, IT'S
MUCH WARMER THAN WE ARE NOW.

Richard says METAPHORICALLY, IT WAS.

Maxwell says IT WAS.
THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY WAS
BOOMING, AND THE AIRPORT WAS
TAKING A VARIETY OF WAYS
OF INVESTING BUSINESS FROM
ABROAD, MAKING IT AN
INTERNATIONAL CENTRE
FOR COMMERCE.
AND IT STRUCK ME AS AN
EXCITING PLACE TO GO.

Richard says IT'S A PLACE WHERE THERE IS
VARIOUS KINDS OF MONEY ARE
DUKING IT OUT, IN
A WAY, FOR CONTROL.
THERE IS THE NEW MONEY, THERE
IS THE OLD MONEY, THERE IS
THE SOUTHERN ARISTOCRACY,
THERE IS THE NEW MERITOCRACY,
YOU MIGHT SAY, AND A DIRECTOR
OF A MUSEUM HAS TO KNOW HOW
TO PLAY ALL OF THEM.
NOW, YOU ACQUIRED A REPUTATION
VERY QUICKLY FOR BEING THE
PERSON WHO KNEW HOW TO
PLAY ALL THE FACTIONS.
I THOUGHT THE NEXT JOB WAS
GOING TO COME FROM THE
DIPLOMATIC CORP. FOR YOU.

Maxwell says DIPLOMACY IS AN ESSENTIAL
ATTRIBUTE OF A MUSEUM DIRECTOR.
THAT'S CLEAR BECAUSE IT'S
VERY EASY TO ALIENATE PEOPLE.
YOU ALIENATE THEM WITHOUT
MEANING TO, MOST OF THE TIME
BECAUSE YOU DON'T
PAY ENOUGH ATTENTION.
AND THE PROBLEM IS THERE
ARE TOO MANY NICE, GENEROUS
PEOPLE, TO PAY ATTENTION TO.
SO YOU INEVITABLY END
UP OFFENDING PEOPLE.
AND IF ONE OF THE ATTRIBUTES
OF A MUSEUM DIRECTOR IS
KNOWING HOW TO AVOID
OFFENDING PEOPLE.
THAT'S A PRETTY
GOOD THING TO HAVE.
AND I SUPPOSE I DEVELOPED
ANTENNAE ABOUT THAT.

Richard says ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I KNOW
THAT DISENCHANTED YOU A BIT
IS THE GROWING TIDE SOUTH OF
THE BORDER TO MAKE ARTISTIC
CUTS FOR POLITICAL REASONS.
IN FACT, YOU SAID YOU FELT A
LOT OF THE CUTS TO THE ARTS
IN AMERICA WERE FRANKLY
IDEOLOGICALLY MOTIVATED,
WHEREAS YOU INITIALLY SAID
WHEN YOU CAME UP HERE, THAT
YOU THOUGHT THEY WERE
ECONOMICALLY MOTIVATED
IN CANADA.
HAVING LIVED HERE WITH THE
HARRIS REGIME FOR A FEW YEARS
NOW, DO YOU STILL FEEL IT'S
ECONOMICS AND NOT IDEOLOGY?

Maxwell says ABSOLUTELY.
I HAVE NO SENSE FROM QUEEN'S
PARK THAT ANY OF THE CHANGES
MADE, CERTAINLY IN OUR CASE,
HAD ANY CONNECTION TO OUR
SERVICE, OR OUR CHARACTER
AS AN INSTITUTION, OR OUR
PERCEIVED ELITISM
OR LACK THEREOF.
THEY WERE ECONOMIC DECISIONS.
NOW, THE EXTENT TO WHICH,
IN THE SOUTH, PEOPLE ARE
MOTIVATED TO FUND ON A
FEDERAL PLATFORM, MUSEUMS, IS
AFFECTED BY POLITICS IS HUGE.
THE KINDS OF ARGUMENTATION
THAT OCCURS AROUND PORNOGRAPHY
AND CENSORSHIP IN GENERAL,
THE FRINGEY NATURE OF THE
ART WORLD.
HERE, IT'S ASSUMED THAT
THE ART WORLD HAS A PLACE
AT THE TABLE.
IT'S ASSUMED THAT
CULTURE IS, IN SOME WAY,
THE RESPONSIBILITY
OF GOVERNMENT.
THAT'S NOT AT ALL
ASSUMED IN THE U.S.
AND FOR THAT REASON, IT'S A
PRETTY UNHAPPY TIME THERE FROM
THE PERSPECTIVE OF
FEDERAL FUNDING.
IT HAD ITS UPS AND DOWNS,
BUT BY AND LARGE, THE UNITED
STATES IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN
THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD THAT
DOESN'T HAVE THIS BASIC
ASSUMPTION THAT CULTURE IS
PART OF THE MANDATE AND
MUST BE PART OF THE MANDATE.

Richard says WHEN YOU DID COME UP HERE,
FOLLOWING SOMEONE YOU HAD KNOWN
AND GONE TO SCHOOL WITH
TOO, I BELIEVE, BEN LOWREY,
THERE WERE THE INEVITABLE
COMPLAINTS, WELL, ONCE AGAIN
THE AGO HAS GONE
SOUTH OF THE BORDER.
NOW, I'M NOT HERE TO ASK YOU
IF THOSE COMPLAINTS ARE RIGHT
OR WRONG OR JUSTIFIED,
BUT DID THEY EVER RANKLE?
DID THEY HURT?

Maxwell says SURE.
THEY HURT MY WIFE, THEY HURT
ME A BIT, IN THE SENSE THE
EXPECTATION WAS GIVE SOMEBODY
A CHANCE TO PROVE THEMSELVES,
AND WE'LL SEE WHAT HAPPENS.
MAYBE THEY'LL MERIT
THE APPOINTMENT.
BUT NOT DEEPLY.
BECAUSE PART OF THIS JOB IS
VERY MUCH BEING, PERCEIVED TO
BE SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE NOT,
OR THAT YOU DON'T BELIEVE
YOURSELF TO BE.
AND THAT'S PART OF THE
CURRENCY OF WHAT I DO.
SO IT'S NOT AN UNUSUAL FEATURE
OF WORKING AS A MUSEUM DIRECTOR.
I WOULD SAY, THE ONLY
LEG UP I HAVE ON GLEN IS
A CANADIAN GRANDMOTHER.
SO AT LEAST WE'RE MAKING A
MOVE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION.

Richard says SO THREE MORE DIRECTORS --

Maxwell says THREE MORE
DIRECTORS, I HOPE NOT.
I WOULD HOPE THE WAYS IN
WHICH MUSEUM TRAINING IN THIS
COUNTRY, AND THE EXTENT TO
WHICH YOUNG PEOPLE'S APPETITE
FOR IT IS IMPROVING, THAT THE
ABILITY OF ANY BOARD TO TURN
TO A PROFESSIONAL WHO IS
WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY AND HIRE
THEM, IT'S GOING TO INCREASE.
CERTAINLY, WE'RE VERY
INTERESTED IN MOVING MUSEUM
STUDIES FORWARD.
I BENEFITED
PERSONALLY FROM IT.
I BELIEVE STRONGLY IN IT.
I THINK DEVELOPING A
PROFESSIONAL CADRE OF
POTENTIAL CURATORS, DIRECTORS
AND ASPIRANTS TO SIGNIFICANT
POSITIONS IS PART OF WHAT
WE SHOULD BE DOING HERE.
AND I'M VERY ACTIVELY WORKING
ON THAT WITH OUR CHIEF
CURATOR, MATTHEW TEITELBAUM,
TO DEVISE WAYS CONNECTING WITH
UNIVERSITIES THROUGHOUT THE
NATION TO BUILD PROFESSIONAL
EXPERTISE AMONG YOUNGER
PEOPLE WHO WOULD LIKE TO BE
DIRECTORS AND CURATORS.

Richard says WHEN YOU STEPPED IN, THE
PERCEPTION FROM THE OUTSIDE OF
HOW THE AGO WAS DOING WAS
MUCH LIKE A MALARIA PATIENT'S
FEVER CHART.
THERE WERE FEVERISH
HIGHS DOWN TO THE CHILLS.
YOU KNOW, WE HAD SO MANY
PEOPLE COMING TO THIS
EXHIBITION, AND THIS AND THIS,
BUT IN BETWEEN THERE WERE ALL
THE LAY-OFFS, THERE WERE
ALL THE CUTBACKS, THERE WAS
RUMOURS OF OVERALL DECLINING
INTEREST IN THE AGO.
HAVING TO TACKLE THAT,
WHAT DID YOU FEEL WOULD BE
YOUR MAJOR MISSION?

Maxwell says SEVERAL MISSIONS WITHIN ONE.
ONE WAS TO CREATE A BETTER
CLIMATE FOR THE STAFF, SO
THERE WAS A FEELING OF WORKING
TOWARDS A MISSION THAT
GALVANIZED ALL OF US.
THAT WAS MY FIRST OBJECTIVE.
WE HAD A NEED FOR A CHANGE IN
OUR CULTURE, INTERNALLY, TO
THINK ABOUT WHO WE WERE, WHO
WE WERE SERVING, WHAT THEY
NEEDED FROM US, WHAT OUR
COMPETENCY WAS TO SERVE THEM.
WE'VE SPENT ABOUT A YEAR DOING
THAT, AND I THINK WITH PRETTY
GOOD SUCCESS IN WAYS THAT ARE
TANGIBLE, JUST THE QUALITY OF
THE EXPERIENCE FOR OUR STAFF,
AND THEIR CONNECTION WITH THE
AUDIENCE IS INCREASING
AND IMPROVING.
IT'S NOT JUST NEW
UNIFORMS FOR THE GUARDS.
IT'S NOT JUST AS WAY IN WHICH
CONNECTING OUR IDENTITY TO
THE PUBLIC THROUGH, AS YOU
MENTIONED A NEW LOGO, WHICH IS
SORT OF, ON ONE HAND, A VERY
SUPERFICIAL THING, ON THE
OTHER, WE'RE
SAYING WHO WE ARE.
THAT'S, IN ITSELF, A
DECLARATION OF SOME IMPORTANCE
FOR THE STAFF, TO BE ABLE TO
SAY THAT'S WHO WE ARE, NOT
JUST GRAPHICALLY, BUT WE'RE
A PLACE THAT IS COMMITTED TO
ACCESSIBILITY, TO ELIMINATING
THE 7 dollar 50 REQUIRED CHARGE TO
COME IN.
MOVING TO A PLATFORM WHICH
PEOPLE CAN PAY WHAT THEY CAN.
PAY A SUGGESTED AMOUNT IF THEY
CHOOSE, OF 5 dollars, BUT IT'S NOT
AN OBLIGATION.
THAT'S A CHANGE IN THE CULTURE
OF THE INSTITUTION TO SAY,
WE REALLY WANT TO
WELCOME PEOPLE HERE.
AND PART OF THAT WAS TO
REDESIGN OUR ENTRANCE TO TAKE
AWAY WHAT WAS, IN EFFECT,
VISUALLY, AN OBSTACLE, THE
ADMISSION DESK, AND REPLACE
IT WITH A WORK OF ART, IN THE
SENSE YOU WERE ENTERING A
SPACE THAT WAS YOURS TO ENTER.
THOSE ARE ALL VERY SMALL,
IN A SENSE, BUT THEY ADD UP.
AND IN THE AGGREGATE THEY
REFLECT A CHANGE IN THE WAY WE
THINK ABOUT OURSELVES HERE.

Richard says THE HOURS HAVE CHANGED, AND
PEOPLE ARE NOW, I GUESS IT WAS
DETERMINED, REALLY, NOT A LOT
OF PEOPLE WERE COMING IN HERE
AT TEN IN THE MORNING
ON MANY OCCASIONS, SO THE
HOURS REFLECT PEOPLE'S
POSSIBLE VISITATION SCHEDULES,
BUT NOT NECESSARILY THE
OFFICE WORK SCHEDULE.
THAT MUST BE A MAJOR
PHILOSOPHICAL CHANGE, AS WELL.

Maxwell says THAT WAS ONE OF THOSE THINGS I
MANDATED WITHOUT A HELL OF A
LOT OF STUDY, I HAVE TO SAY.
WE DID INVESTIGATE WHEN PEOPLE
COULD VISIT AND SURVEYED
FOCUS GROUP AS ARE
NORMAL IN THIS.
AND THE RESULTS BASICALLY
SAID, HOW CAN WE COME WHEN
WE'RE WORKING?
IT DOES SEEM COUNTERINTUITIVE.
I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO SEE
MUSEUMS BE OPEN INTO THE
EVENING, PREFERABLY
MORE THAN ONCE A WEEK.
FOR US, IT WAS A PHILOSOPHICAL
CHANGE TO SAY, FROM
TEN UNTIL NOON, WE'LL BE OPEN,
BUT WE'LL BE OPEN TO SCHOOLS.
WE'LL HAVE KIDS COMING IN, AND
THEY WILL HAVE THE GALLERY
UNTO THEMSELVES.
SO THEY CAN, IN FACT, BE A
LITTLE MORE NOISY, PERHAPS,
THAN THE PUBLIC, IN GENERAL,
WOULD BE COMFORTABLE WITH.
SO THEY'LL CONTINUE TO COME
IN THOSE HOURS, AND ALL WE'RE
SAYING IS WE'RE EXTENDING THE
ENVELOPE OF OPEN HOURS TO THE
GENERAL PUBLIC
INTO THE EVENING.
SO WE'RE ACTUALLY
ADDING HOURS.
WE'RE INCREASING OUR ABILITY
TO SERVE THE PUBLIC THAT WAY.

Richard says I KEEP USING THE WORD PARADOX
A LOT WHEN I TALK TO YOU,
AND I'M ABOUT TO USE IT AGAIN.
SOMEBODY WHO, AGAIN, TRAINED
IN ART OF THE ANTIQUITIES IS
KNOWN AS ONE OF THE FOREMOST
DEVOTEES OF THE INTERNET.
HOW DID YOU STUMBLE INTO THE
NET, OR DID IT STUMBLE ONTO YOU?

Maxwell says IN COLLEGE, AT DARTMOUTH,
1973, THE PRESIDENT OF THE
COLLEGE WAS JOHN KEMENEY,
WHO WAS EINSTEIN'S
RESEARCH ASSISTANT.
AND ONE OF KEMENEY'S GREAT
ACHIEVEMENTS WAS INVENTING THE
COMPUTER LANGUAGE, BASIC,
WHICH TO HISTORIANS OF
TECHNOLOGY WAS A GREAT MOMENT.
IT WAS A WATERSHED IN WHICH
IDEAS WERE BEING CONNECTED
ELECTRONICALLY THROUGH A
LANGUAGE, AS OPPOSED TO
IMPULSES OR CARDS OR TAPE.
AND I WAS OBLIGATED, AS A
FRESHMAN AT DARTMOUTH, TO
WRITE A TERM PAPER, USING THE
MAINFRAME COMPUTER SYSTEM
AT DARTMOUTH.
SO 24 YEARS AGO, I BEGAN TO
HAVE AN ACQUAINTANCE WITH WHAT
ALL OF THIS MEANT.
AND I NEVER REALLY STOPPED
BEING INTRIGUED BY WHAT
ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION
WOULD MEAN.
FOR ME, THE CONNECTION TO
ANTIQUITY IS OBVIOUS, AND
IT'S STARTING TO HIT OFFICES
TODAY WITH VOICE RECOGNITION
SOFTWARE, WITH THE BELIEF, IN
SOME WAY, THE TRANSITION OF
KNOWLEDGE AND MOVEMENT OF
ONE IDEA TO AN AUDIENCE WAS
ACCOMPLISHED ORALLY.
WE WENT THROUGH THIS
INTERVENING PHASE OF PRINT,
WHICH HAS LASTED A FEW
CENTURIES, BUT IN THE ARCH OF
TIME, IT'S NOT REALLY A VERY
HISTORICALLY GROUNDED WAY
OF COMMUNICATING.
IT'S WONDERFUL.
I LOVE IT.
I LOVE READING CATALOGUES AND
BUYING BOOKS, BUT IT'S SORT
OF A SHORT WINDOW IN
THE HISTORY OF HUMAN
COMMUNICATION, WHICH HAS
BEEN ORAL, BASICALLY.
SO AS WE MOVE INTO A PHASE
NOW OF VOICE RECOGNITION
TECHNOLOGY, AND SEEING YOUR
WORDS APPEAR ON A SCREEN AS
YOU SPEAK THEM BECOMES THE
NORM, I SUSPECT THE RELATION
TO ANTIQUITY WILL
BECOME A LITTLE CLEARER.
BECAUSE, ULTIMATELY, IT'S MORE
A MATTER OF HOW THE INTERNET
WILL ALLOW NETWORKS TO
COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER,
RATHER THAN THIS BIG STRANGE
THING CALLED THE INTERNET,
WHICH DOESN'T EXIST ANYWAY.

Richard says WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE
ADVANTAGE OF HAVING A GREAT
WEBSITE FOR THE AGO?

Maxwell says I THINK WE'RE ACTUALLY
ANTICIPATING SOMETHING.
HAVING A GREAT WEBSITE TODAY
IS EFFECTIVELY A WAY OF
ENSURING YOU ARE NOT
LOSING OUT ON A PIECE OF
COMMUNICATIVE ACTION
THAT YOU MIGHT OTHERWISE.
BUT UNTO ITSELF, IT'S A
TOOL LIKE MANY OTHERS.
WE'RE DOING SOMETHING
DIFFERENT HERE, ON TOP OF THAT.
WE'RE BUILDING THE ART MUSEUM
NETWORK, WHICH IS ACTUALLY
A GLOBAL ENTERPRISE.
AND A VERY EXCITING ONE
BECAUSE IT IS THE OFFICIAL
INTERNET ADDRESS FOR
THE 200 LARGEST ART MUSEUMS
IN NORTH AMERICA.
IT'S AT AMN.ORG,
FOR YOUR VIEWERS.
AND THE ART MUSEUM NETWORK
IS A NETWORK OF NETWORKS.
IT IS THE PLACE YOU CAN GO,
NOT ONLY TO SEE ALL THE SITES
OF ALL THE LARGEST ART MUSEUMS
IN NORTH AMERICA, BUT WE'RE
BUILDING BEHIND IT SEVERAL
APPLICATIONS THAT WILL BE OF
INTEREST TO USERS
OF THE INTERNET.
WITH THIS APPLICATION, YOU
CAN TYPE IN THE TITLE OF AN
EXHIBITION, OR THE NAME OF
AN ARTIST, OR A CITY, OR A
COUNTRY, AND FIND THE
EXHIBITION CALENDAR OF THE
RESPECTIVE MUSEUMS THAT
HAVE THOSE EXHIBITS.
WE PRESENTED THIS IN ROME
ABOUT TEN DAYS AGO TO THE
DIRECTORS OF THE 50 LARGEST
ART MUSEUMS IN THE WORLD,
FROM THE HERMITAGE TO THE
METROPOLITAN, TO THE BRITISH
MUSEUM, THE BERLIN MUSEUM, AND
WE HAVE BEEN OFFICIALLY ASKED
BY THIS GROUP OF MUSEUMS TO
RUN THE WORLD'S EXHIBITION
CALENDAR THAT WAY, ON AMN.
SO IT'S AN EXCITING TOOL
BECAUSE THEN IT ALLOWS US TO
START THINKING ABOUT THE
QUESTION YOU FIRST RAISED,
WHAT IS ALL THIS
GOING TO DO FOR US?
IT WILL CONNECT TOUR
OPERATORS, TRAVEL AGENCIES,
AIRLINES, THE HOTEL INDUSTRY,
TO THE EXHIBITION CALENDARS.
AND IT WILL MEAN, SUDDENLY,
THERE WILL BE A VERY EFFICIENT
WAY OF PLANNING TRAVEL AROUND
THE EXHIBITION SCHEDULES.

Richard says YOU SEEM TO BE LOOKING OUTWARD
ALL THE TIME, AT A BIGGER
PICTURE OF WHAT A MUSEUM
CAN DO IN THIS DAY AND AGE.
IS THERE A PRIMAL IMAGE
THAT COMES BACK TO YOU?
I MEAN, WHEN YOU THINK
ABOUT WHAT YOU'D LIKE TO SEE
HAPPENING, IS IT THIS FAMILY
WANDERING IN ON A SUNDAY, OR
PERHAPS A SOLITARY PERSON BEING
STRUCK BY AN INDIVIDUAL WORK?
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR PAYOFF?

Maxwell says THE PAYOFF IS THE FACE OF A
VISITOR WHO IS IN FRONT OF AN
ORIGINAL WORK OF ART
AND TAKING IT IN.
TO ME, THAT IS WHAT
IT'S ALL FOR.
ANYTHING WE DO ELECTRONICALLY
IS BASED UPON THE ASSUMPTION
THAT IT IS GOING TO GET MORE
PEOPLE TO COME AND LOOK AT
OUR WORKS OF ART.
AND THAT'S THE
PLEASURE FOR ME.
PARTICULARLY THOSE PEOPLE WHO
MAY NOT HAVE BEEN EXPECTED TO
COME IN OUR DOORS BEFORE, BUT
WHO ARE SUDDENLY ENTICED AND
INTRIGUED AND LESS THREATENED
AND INTIMIDATED BY THE
EXPERIENCE THEY MIGHT HAVE
WHEN THEY GET HERE, TO GET
THEM IN THE DOOR IS THE
REAL PAYOFF FOR ME.
BECAUSE I KNOW COLLECTORS
AND PATRONS AND FRIENDS AND
MEMBERS WILL COME BECAUSE
THEY HAVE THE FIRE
IN THEIR BELLY ALREADY.
IT'S ATTRACTING PEOPLE FOR
WHOM THE CONNECTION TO THE
HISTORY OF CREATIVITY, TO MAKE
A CONNECTION TO THEIR LIVES
TODAY, THAT'S THE MOST
APPEALING PART OF IT FOR ME.

Richard says THANK YOU FOR
SHARING THAT WITH US.

Maxwell says THANK YOU.

Richard faces the screen and says
FOR DIALOGUE,
I'M RICHARD OUZOUNIAN.
GOOD-BYE FOR NOW.

Music plays as the end slate reads “Dialogue.”

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 1997, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Maxwell Anderson