Building a culture, not a building.
In today’s age it is certainly possible to have a museum without the building of the museum. The question is where we should draw the line to where to call it a museum and where the term museum might be rather an overestimating term. One of the examples is a mobile museum where a museum is movable (RVs or buses) where the museums come to a person rather than vice versa. Furthermore, one of the examples might be also virtual museum. What about a museum that is not online or movable but has the exhibition but no building?
In this particular case, I will be speaking about the Museum of Transgender Hirstory and Art (MOTHA). And yes, word hirstory (sometimes called herstory) is not misspelled. MOTHA might be (or is) definitely one of the museums with huge cultural impact. Only in United States 1 from300 people identify themself as transgender (whether drag queen, genderfluid, transvestite or transsexual). Which means that all around the world there are thousands of people that this museum would be relevant to. However, the only museum that deals with this kind of topic is the Transvestite Museum of Peru. Furthermore, according to the RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Raja Gemini, , drag is also a visual art which I could not agree more. So Transgender Hirstory and Art should without a doubt to have their own museum.
To know about the MOTHA museum, you can go see their pages (sfmotha.org). I can only guess that the sf in the url page means San Francisco. Because where else would this museum stand than in the original heart of transgender culture? At their pages, MOTHA describes itself as “the preeminent institution of its kind, the museum insists on an expansive and unstable definition of transgender, one that is able to encompass all trans and gender non-conformed art and artists. MOTHA is committed to developing a robust exhibition and programming schedule that will enrich the transgender mythos both by exhibiting works by living artists and by honoring the hiroes and transcestors who have come before.”
However, the problem is that MOTHA does not own any building. MOTHA comments on this fact at their pages: “Pending the construction of MOTHA, the museum will function as a series of autonomous off-site experiences in North America and throughout the world.”
My question is, where do we draw the line of what is a museum and what is just a “institution” owning the exhibitions? Is MOTHA a real museum? Does a museum have to have a building in order to become a museum? Or if MOTHA moves its exhibitions around the world, is it a type of mobile museum?
According to ICOM Code for Ethics for museum “The governing body should ensure adequate premises with a suitable environment for the museum to fulfil the basic functions defined in its mission. ” However, does this premises have to be one place or can it be multiple buildings throughout the world?