"A University Museum. . . requires proper facilities to train men to be directors and curators of Museums, and to be connoisseurs, critics, and teachers of the arts." This declaration comes from the Fogg Museum's Handbook.
Unfortunately, among the beneficiaries of the Fine Arts Department and the Museum, as presented in the quotation, there is no mention of by far the largest body of men who use their facilities, namely, those who wish to round out their cultural educations: undergraduates and graduates who take the elementary courses in Art and who like to stroll around the museum between classes, looking at the superb collections.
These men wish to become neither directors nor curators of museums. Not even connoisseurs, cirtics, or teachers of the arts. All these occupations imply specialization. The large majority of students wish merely to acquire an appreciation of art, so that they may in the future enjoy museums, and be able to pick out good modern prints, pictures, or reproductions for the decoration of their own homes.
Of course, the Department must also train specialists and teachers, but if specialists and teachers are merely to train specialists and teachers who in turn train more specialists and more teachers to follow them, the community of Harvard benefits little. An institution must perpetuate itself, but it must also serve another purpose, which in this case is to spread interest and appreciation in Art among laymen.
In spite of the quotation, the Fine Arts authorities realize this final purpose. There are excellent courses in the appreciation of Art, in the History of Art, in the Philosophy of Art, and in the Technical Methods of Art. What is lacking are courses in Collection and methods to encourage personal artistic Creation, whether by future amateurs, or by future professionals. But even in the field of general Cultural Appreciation, where there is some consciousness of the necessity of making courses attractive to non-specialists, the Department is doing only one half, or less, of what it should and could.
(This is the first of a series of four editorials on the Fine Arts Department.)