I saw the strangest thing at the Modern Museum of Art (MoMA) last week. It wasn’t the nearly overwhelming Abstract Expressionist New York or the sadly underwhelming Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen. It was the number of mostly young people taking pictures and making videos of the artwork – or tweeting to unseen friends about being at MoMa. Heads were down, brows furrowed, fingers and hands busy, busy. They seemed to be taking pictures of everything in sight, and of each other standing next to famous paintings, drawings and pieces of furniture - and in one case standing directly in front of a lurid Jackson Pollock.
None of this group seemed to be looking at the art. Older people were doing what we’ve always done: Pause, stand just far enough back and take in the picture; then move up close to read the wall notes – careful not to block anyone else’s view - then sigh with either disappointment or delight and move on. Clearly, young people visit museums in a new, tech-driven way. Maybe their pleasure comes at home when they download the day’s “experience” and post it on Facebook. Then it’s real.