[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
By SARAH BOXER
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 (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
(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 (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
(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
The Grocery List Collection (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
(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
(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
(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
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