Museums are places that contain things, most often objects of historical or cultural value and significance. Museums are also places in which events can take place, such as galas or concerts. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, one of the most prominent U.S. institutions of contemporary art, held an Internet Cat Video Festival last week.
One of the ironies of the event is that the videos being shown were from the Internet, which allows people to experience the same cultural artifacts (whether significant or not) even if they are separated by place and time; however, on the grounds of the Walker, the videos were watched by people gathered together in one location to watch the same thing at the same time.
Another irony is that even though some may think a bricks and mortar museum as a repository as culture has been overwhelmed by the World Wide Wide as a repository of culture, people remain social animals, willing to gather at a museum to share a cultural experience.
The broader question, though, can be stated two ways:
1. If the Walker is spending time with cat videos, then does that mean it is spending less time with serious artists?
2. Are cat videos art?