Whitney Curry Wimbish at The Baffler:
None of this information is secret. But neither museums nor their trustees spell it out, so it’s hidden just enough that our collective delusions about museums can persist. The cover is only blown in extreme cases—tear-gassed kids—and it throws into the ugliest light one of the few public places of respite from our punishing society. It’s a particularly stark reminder that no organization is purely good when money is the major organizing principle. The art and search for meaning that constitute the best expression of humanity will always be diluted here. In this case it’s cut by the worst expression of humanity, war.
It’s also a stark reminder that people with blood on their hands will always have a chance to rehabilitate their image. In this case, museums use them to keep their lights on: by appointing big donors to the board, sometimes requiring they donate a minimum amount, and then assigning them such duties as fundraising, “educating policymakers,” and “thinking strategically,” according to the American Alliance of Museums’ most recent report on museum boards. And in exchange for this, donors can represent to the rest of us that they are our benefactors, regardless of what else they’re up to. Now they’re “philanthropists.”