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Posted inArt

Should Museums Protest Ai Weiwei’s Arrest?

Dan Keegan, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, has recently been shoving his foot farther and farther into his mouth with statements about museums’ role in politics. Namely, he thinks that museums should be apolitical, and he has stated that his museum’s decision to collaborate with Chinese museums and show Chinese do not have any relationship to China’s arrest and detainment of artist Ai Weiwei.

According to Keegan, protesting China’s detaining of Ai Weiwei, an internationally regarded artist, is not only ineffective, but wrong. “We don’t do protests … I would say very emphatically that we should not protest ever,” the director said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Mary Louise Schumacher. In an international situation such as Ai’s arrest, can museums avoid being political? Can they avoid caring about the well-being of the artists they support and show? I would argue that art institutions have to be political, and the protesting, far from being wrong, is exactly what museums should be doing.