Exit133 is about Tacoma
Hype! Hype! It’s life in Tacoma
The New Tribune ran an opinion piece by Jen Graves yesterday that further established the extremely predictable fact that she doesn’t like the Museum of Glass. If you’ve read anything by Ms. Graves regarding the Glass Museum in the last few years you’ve heard repeatedly that the place doesn’t have a curator and that Josi Callan makes way more money than any reasonable HR market survey could justify for her position. What bothers me in the most in this story, however, is her criticism of the museum’s supposed role as panacea for the city and the hype that accompanied its opening.
The hype bouncing off this shining building was unreal. Before it was built and through its first year, the Museum of Glass was the wonder drug for all that ailed the city, a gleaming part of city life seemingly second in importance only to the Puget Sound…
Yet, if you’ve lived in Tacoma for any part of the last decade you know that city loves to chase snake oil salesmen and buy the latest wonder drug. It isn’t just in the arts. Go back to our days as “America’s Most Wired City” and one can remember the hype. Our high speed internet connection was going to draw companies from far and wide, but we still don’t have a significant anchor company to draw other businesses. Then we got into the convention center game right as other cities were discovering that convention centers weren’t worth all the hype. I will mention the spire and hope I don’t ever hear about it again. Now we have the Lemay Car Museum and all its political baggage. At one point there was talk of a motorcycle museum in the tideflats. At least the UW Tacoma seems to be doing well. Hype gets money in this city.
One of the problems I see in this list is that few of these things are truly relevant to the people that live in the city. “Oooh… let’s go to the motorcycle museum again!” Yes, the creation of Click! Network brought us competition in the cable TV and internet space, but have you ever tried to get lunch in downtown Tacoma on a weekend?
I’m not going to defend Ms. Callan’s ridiculous salary or the bridges that have been burned in the community to date. Nor am I going to try to understand the Glass Museum’s convoluted mission. But I’m not sure what the purpose of articles like this are for the paper, the community, or the museum. It’s an opinion piece that has been run over and over again in the middle of exhibit ‘reviews’ that hardly ever talked about the exhibit. Is the goal to erode community support and bring down the museum now that it may actually have a chance at managerial change? This could’ve been a great opportunity for the paper to talk about the future of the museum and the city with a new tone and with at least a glimpse of hope.
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