As mentioned in my previous blogs, I have reservations about the use of the word ‘Museum’ in ‘Artscience Museum’. All my doubts have been cleared up – I officially petition for them to drop ‘Museum’ from their name.
Why? Click here, and you will see that the ‘museum’ is going to host an auction preview by auction house Christies Hong Kong this weekend. Any museum worth its salt would say a loud ‘NO’ to such an exhibition, no matter how long it is for, because
1) a bone fide museum is NOT in the business of ‘selling’ artefacts (as museums are there to protect artefacts for posterity). By allowing, Chrisites to use its space for a pre-sale preview blurs the line between a museum that ‘protects’ artefacts, and one that helps in ‘hawking’ them.
2) there are many legal issues. A museum’s reputation is as good as ‘authenticity’ of their artefacts. A museum who is even rumoured to be displaying fakes will not stand the test of time. So, hypothetically, if some of the Christies artefacts on display at Artscience this weekend are enventually sold AND later proven to be fakes, the reputation of Artscience as the museum who had displayed these fakes will also go downhill. Another legal issue is ‘false association’: Christies HK may benefit from this exhibition at the Artscience if its potential bidders feel that the lots, having been displayed at a ‘reputable’ museum, have some kind of ‘unquestionable’ authenticity and therefore bid with confidence (even if the ‘true’ authenticity of some objects may be questionable).
So, the question arising is ‘why does Artscience want to host this preview?’. I don’t know for sure, but it must be a mixture of money (both from the fees Chrisities will pay Artscience for rental and money collected from more visitors), increase in museum visitorship, international publicity, prestige of being associated with an international auction house etc.
I have also previously blogged about the National Museum of Singapore being too close to ‘commercial’ exhibitions like the one featuring watches solely from Vacheron. But I’ve got to say of all the unholy unions between our Singapore museums and external parties, this one between Artscience Museum and Christies Hong Kong tops them all. I hope some juicy controversies come out of this union, so we can all learn all about its unholiness.