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CAMH versus MFAH Contemporary

Houston Public Media’s Jen Rice put out a radio news spot yesterday, interviewing Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) Director Gary Tinterow, Contemporary Arts Museum (CAMH) Director Bill Arning, and Glasstire’s own founder Rainey Knudson.

The issue was the MFAH’s upcoming contemporary arts building and how it might affect the CAMH, located directly across the street. All interviewees agreed that the two institutions have different missions. Since the CAMH has no permanent collection, it can react to art issues more quickly. And since the MFAH collects, we can all enjoy the work for a longer period of time.

Take, for example, the current MFAH exhibition, Pipilotti Rist: Pixel Forest and Worry Will Vanish, which comes a decade after the CAMH’s Rist show. Or the MFAH’s James Turrell tunnel, The Light Inside, commissioned the year after the CAMH’s exhibition of James Turrell: Spirit and Light. Knudson said it makes sense for CAMH to have temporary exhibits. “The problem with collecting contemporary art is that it doesn’t stay contemporary very long.”


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