For the first time in modern history, foot traffic at art museums across the nation has been dropping steadily, whereas until the turn of the 21st century, attendance had always gone up. (Ulysses Muñoz, Mary McCauley / Baltimore Sun video)
Your front page article, “Art no longer a huge draw” (Jan. 16), provided numerous insights as to why attendance at museums is at an all time low. In reading Mary Carole McCauley’s article, I was reminded of my visits to the Baltimore Museum of Art back in the 1960s.
As a youngster growing up in a working class Baltimore County neighborhood, my dear mother believed it to be of the utmost importance to expose her children to the art and culture readily available at the museums of Baltimore City. Some of my most cherished memories are of the family treks to the city to view exhibits and be treated to a dinner out if we all behaved ourselves while at the BMA. I, in fact, represent the “repeat visitor” that the Walters Art Museum director referred to as the most important.
Why then have I stopped visiting? It is because of the “elephant” just outside the galleries that Ms. McCauley never mentions. Violent crime is so out of control in Baltimore, a daytime visit to any of the museums presents a true and dangerous risk. Gun toting teenagers are hijacking cars in broad daylight with victims considering themselves fortunate if the criminals decide to only take the car and not the driver’s life.
When I no longer fear what very well could happen at any red light intersection in the city, I would be happy to visit any of the art museums as a regular patron.