One Museum, Two Movies

‘The Great Museum’

The world-renowned Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna provides both the setting and the subject of two great recent movies: Museum Hours by Jem Cohen and The Great Museum by Johannes Holzhausen. On various levels, the two films present contrasting and complementary views of the museum. Cohen’s feature was made with the cooperation of the Kunsthistorisches, but it is an independent work of fiction with an unendorsed view of the museum, spoken mostly through the voiceover of a security guard (Bobby Sommer). Holzhausen made his documentary with the full participation of the museum, with exclusive access to a wide range of activities from executive meetings and celebrity galas to intimate conversations and moments among the museum’s many employees. This video takes footage from both films to create a kind of dialogue between them, one specifically about the state of museums and art in a 21st-century world that seems increasingly corporatized and bottom-line driven.

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