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The Met Announces They'll Be an Early Voting Site

FEI LU: The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced that it will be an early voting site for the upcoming New York State primary elections. The announcement came earlier this week and it marks the first time in 151 years that the Met will host voters, joining institutions like Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of the Moving Image facilitating early voters in previous years.

Kym Rice is Interim Director of Corcoran School of Arts and Design in Washington DC. We discuss the potential significance of the Met’s decision, and how it may influence how other cultural institutions engage with political happenings moving forward.

LU: What is the history of museums and cultural institutions in the US participating in civil slash political activities?

KYM RICE: I think that it is a fairly recent phenomena of the last, honestly, couple of years.

American museums are really part of the civil fabric. And this is, this is probably one of the most explicit ways that they demonstrate that.

LU: And what do you think, prompted the Metropolitan Museum of Art to, you know, choose to take on this role for the first time in 151 years?

RICE: I think the pandemic has changed a lot of things. You know, maybe museums have, this has been sort of a wake up call, because it has been incredibly disruptive,

And I would think that one of the ways that leadership might react would be realizing that we, we, you know, we all need each other, and it's very important that museums, you know, demonstrate their relevance and also be part, of the sort of the city and, you know, the town or wherever they're located part of that life.

LU: What do you think are some of the more specific obstacles and challenges that museums will face, you know, simultaneously serving as a cultural institution, but also a place to, you know, facilitate voting?

RICE: I mean, you know, they, they have to be big enough,because you have to have be able to give the voter privacy in order to be able to cast their vote. You know, they have to sort of separate it from the activities that are going on in the museum too. So that people who are coming in to look at the collection, and things are disrupted by this.

LU: Traditionally, lots of museums and cultural institutions have had to have to have the sense of, you know, elitism attached, do you think this desire to, you know, become not only more inclusive culturally bustles, so, socially, well encouraged these days, institutions to take on more active, you know, civil and political roles moving forward?

RICE: I do. I do think so. I mean, when I was first working in museums, we were always pushed to be neutral. And neutrality isn't really possible. I don't think in in the time that we live in right at this moment, you know, given the sort of the political turmoil that we've been through in the last four or five years.

Museums can be very influential institutions, visitors trust them. They think that much of what they learned from them as sort of the truth in quotes. And so, I mean, they could play, they can continue to play a new plane and a more important role in this area. So yes, I think you're absolutely right. This is the next step is really exciting. It's not going to be without controversy, I'm sure. Um But it's what we should do.

LU: That was Kym Rice, the interim director of Corcoran School of Arts and Design at the Colombian College of Arts and Sciences. Thank you so much for seeking us today.

RICE: Thank you so much.


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