When I am at a loss as to what to say in our Newsletter, there is a part of me that thinks that I should invite others to write a few words in this space. All entries will be considered.
We are, most definitely, a diverse group, what I like to refer to as "a broad but deep" organization. We also are working in an area that is distinctly privileged. Essentially, we are all collectors, focusing on aspects of history that are both celebrated or forgotten. The concept of that idea has me in awe.
I live fairly close to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and, when I feel like it, I wander down to the museum and take a stroll. The English decorative arts are closed for the next year and a half, but even when they are open, I usually try to go look at something I haven't seen before. When I think that most of the objects in the museum went through dealer hands, I can't help but think that I am in the right business.
I am currently reading a book about Hans Sloane by James Delbourgo called, "Collecting the World". The cabinet of curiosities, according to the author, was an acceptable form of collecting for Protestants during the iconoclastic Cromwell era. This led to men like Sloane (1660-1753) to travel the world (Jamaica) to collect and catalogue, in essence to make it useful to British commerce. But this was still collecting, the excuse for it had only shifted to suit the political and religious dogma of the moment.
Collecting art and antiques (history) will never stop. The number of dealers may diminish, the number of collectors may diminish, but this is only a short-term trend. I would suggest that a visit to a museum will encourage all of us to consider the long term. Indeed, the museum business is booming, a sure signal that collecting will rebound. But, like the collectors of the Cromwell era, we might need to better understand how best to present ourselves. Adaptation, as another great English collector noted, is the essence to survival.
All the best,
President of CINOA