01 May Hugh Eakin

I asked True one afternoon whether her belief in the value of museums had changed.

“I think it is very hard for people raised in a technological age to understand how individuals millennia ago achieved with their hands objects of unbelievable beauty,” she said. “Why are we moved by a Cycladic idol? We don’t even know what it means or what it was used for. You look at the gorgeous Harpist” – a renowned Getty idol – “and you say, ‘The person who thought to create this out of a single block of marble with nothing but bronze and emery tools!’ It hasn’t been surpassed. There are other things that can be equally good, but it’s never been surpassed in terms of artistic achievement. And a young child can walk into the institution today and see the beauty in it as much as somebody who knew why it was created six millennia ago.
“But if we don’t show these things, and we don’t interpret them, and we don’t use them to educate people, what are they surrounded by? Plastic and bad design and things that have no aesthetic quality at all.”