A CONSERVATIVE quarterly, The Public Interest, is running a piece, "Reinventing the Museum," in its current issue in which it cites an exhibit now at the Maryland Historical Society as an example of "would-be radical reformers working within the state-dominated museum to subvert the supposed 'ideology' of the state, or corporate elite."
Or, as it later put it more bluntly, "to subvert the museum from within."
Its passage centers on an exhibit entitled, "Mining the Museum," now at the MHS headquarters at 201 West Monument Street. Here's what it said:
"To draw attention to the neglect of the history of Maryland's black community, New York performance artist Fred Wilson employs items from the museum's collection in evocative juxtaposition -- for example, a pair of iron shackles amid elaborate goblets and tankards once owned by the region's elite.
"Wilson provides a superior example of the strategy of displaying traditional material in such a way as to subvert middle class conceptions and impart left-liberal opinions.
"This strategy of turning the bourgeois museum against the bourgeoisie, as it were, is obviously more appealing to members of the art world's managerial elite than exile to grubby little alternative art spaces."
The author of the article is Michael Lind, editor of The National Interest, another conservative publication.