[Paleopsych] NYT: Online, Anything and Everything Can Be a Museum Piece

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The New York Times > Arts > Arts Special > Critic's Notebook: Online,
Anything and Everything Can Be a Museum Piece
March 30, 2005


    THE age of MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, is over. The age of MoOM,
    the Museum of Online Museums, is upon us.

    In the 1960's, deep in the age of MoMA, Andy Warhol painted a stack of
    plywood cubes to look like Brillo boxes. That was the end of art, the
    philosopher and art critic Arthur Danto proclaimed. He didn't mean
    that after Warhol there would be no more art, but rather that anything
    could be art.

    If anything could be art, then it follows (by about 40 years) that a
    collection of anything - birth-control packages, grains of sand from
    all over the world, Swedish magazines with Ingrid Bergman on the
    cover, bossa nova album covers, lederhosen, nostrums, moist
    towelettes, microphones, "misused" quotation marks, Japanese milk
    bottle pull-tabs, stickers peeled off East Village streets between
    1992 to 1995 and air-sickness bags - could and will be a museum.

    The Museum of Online Museums ([2]www.coudal.com/moom.php) is a Web
    site that features a long list of links to museums and galleries on
    the Internet. The site, maintained by Coudal Partners, a design and
    advertising firm in Chicago, has so many links that it has an annex
    ([3]www.coudal.com/archive.php?cat=cat_moom). Some links take you to
    the Web sites of real museums - the Museum of Modern Art, the San
    Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
    Most lead to more obscure online collections.

    Some are fabulous. Some are not.

    In the scary foods group you have some choices. The main branch of
    MoOM offers the Museum of Burnt Food ([4]www.burntfoodmuseum.com),
    where you'll find King Tut's tomato and freestanding apple cider.
    (Look, Ma, no cup!) But the Museum of Food Anomalies
    ([5]www.hanttula.com/exhibits/freakyfood/index.htm) is more
    educational. Among the Siamese fruits and the snacks resembling the
    Virgin Mary, you'll find many foods looking irked or horrified by
    their eaters.

    The Grocery List Collection ([6]www.grocerylists.org) is compulsive
    reading. Among the 700 shopping lists is one that includes "potoes,
    chese, pease, smokes." My favorite is a short list scrawled on the
    back of an envelope with a return address of Christ's Gospel
    Fellowship, Spokane, Wash. Under the words "Urgent - Needed" are
    "knife + sheath," written in red ink, then scratched out and replaced
    with "hatchet sheath."

    MoOM has a number of links to candy wrapper galleries. One, the
    Collection of Candy Cigarette Packaging
    ([7]http://cardhouse.com/a/candy/bigthumb.htm), is fabulous. A grid of
    cigarette candy packs greets you on entering the site. One glimpse
    makes you feel like a kid in a candy store. A second makes you queasy.
    That's the point. Consume enough and, the Web site promises,
    "Eventually you'll get pretend cancer."

    Click on any of the packs, and you'll meet its maker. How about that
    nice box of Viceroys, I mean Viceyos? The producer, who gets a whole
    page, is Productos Glodis, a Mexican company that specializes in candy
    names that are jumbles of famous brands: Viceyo, Pall Mali, Poots,
    Marlbaro, Enson & Hedge, Ralfigi, Acmel, Delgado, Parlamen, Faro. "It
    just doesn't get any better than Productos Glodis," the site says.

    There is an old-fashioned feel to the Museum of Coat Hangers
    ([8]homepage.mac.com/marchesbaugh/moch/intro.html). There's even a
    lobby. In the first gallery (beginning in 2000 B.C.), you'll see the
    earliest depiction: a tiny coat hanger floating below the knees of a
    figure carved into the walls of the Temple of Mentuhotep II in West

    In its half-decade of existence, the Museum of Online Museums has
    evolved. Peek in the annex, where the individual collections are
    organized by the date they were posted on the site. You'll notice that
    at the beginning, among the galleries of condiment packets and
    unfortunate Christmas cards, were a few mainstream exhibitions,
    including Duke University's collection of magazine and newspaper ads,
    the Getty Museum's "Devices of Wonder" show and an exhibition of Ben
    Katchor's musty drawings at the Jewish Museum. Those are seeds of the
    MoOM beanstalk: commerce, contraptions and nostalgia.

    MoOM is growing at a fearful pace. A glance at the annex indicates
    that back in 2001 there would be a new post roughly once a month. Now
    the museum (or at least the annex) adds nearly one collection a day.

    I just checked out the Gallerie Abominate of Really Bad 3-D
    ([9]www.jackals-forge.com/abom.html). At the top of the page is a
    message both casual and desperate: "HI THERE im afraid that for the
    forseeable future the gallery will not be updated so please do not
    send me any pictures or captions. Sorry but i dont really have the
    time anymore."


    1. http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=SARAH%20BOXER&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=SARAH%20BOXER&inline=nyt-per
    2. http://www.coudal.com/moom.php
    3. http://www.coudal.com/archive.php?cat=cat_moom
    4. http://www.burntfoodmuseum.com/
    5. http://www.hanttula.com/exhibits/freakyfood/index.htm
    6. http://www.grocerylists.org/
    7. http://cardhouse.com/a/candy/bigthumb.htm
    8. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/30/arts/artsspecial/www.homepage.mac.com/marchesbaugh/moch/intro.html
    9. http://www.jackals-forge.com/abom.html

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