What happens when history is kept behind closed doors?

Christie’s, the world famous auction house, has closed public access to their public archives. Exclusivity, it seems, is paramount for the elite…

Words by Alexander Stubbs. First published February 27th, 2021 at The Mackayan.

When we talk about a place like Christie’s, we imbue a certain sentimentality upon it. Sentimentality is our way of placing importance upon things that others consider useless and irrelevant.

It’s a preservation technique and, when used correctly, it protects what should be protected. The recent closure of Christie’s world-famous King Street archive, then, has sparked a flurry of concerns from academics, artists, and curators alike. King Street is not just an iconic location in the art world; it’s a beating heart for scholarship, a place where obscure discoveries are made and art history narratives forged.

Home to what is considered the most comprehensive auction archive in the world, it’s not just a case of sentimentality but historical and cultural significance. That alone is enough to warrant the wave of criticism stemming from the decision to close off public access to the archive. If we cannot access art, what use is it collecting dust?

Enjoyed reading? Head over to The Mackayan to read the full essay, here.

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