Critical Inquiry 3 (3):449-470 (1977)

I hope you will agree, however, that the purpose of the museum should ultimately be to teach the difference between pencils and works of art. What I have called the shrine was set up and visited by people who thought that they knew this difference. You approached the exhibits with an almost religious awe, an awe which certainly was sometimes misplaced but which secured concentration. Our egalitarian age wants to take the awe out of the museum. It should be a friendly place, welcoming to everyone. Of course it should be. Nobody should feel afraid to enter it or for that matter be kept away by his inability to pay. But as far as I can see the real psychological problem here is how to lift the burden of fear, which is the fear of the outsider who feels he does not belong, without also killing what for want of a better word I must still call respect. Such respect seems to me inseparable from the thrill of genuine admiration which belongs to our enjoyment of art. This admiration is a precious heritage which is in danger of being killed with kindness. E. H. Gombrich was director of the Warburg Institute and Professor of the History of the Classical Tradition at the University of London from 1959 to 1976. His books include The Story of Art, Art and Illusion, Meditations on a Hobby Horse, Norm and Form, Symbolic Images, The Heritage of Apelles, and In Search of Cultural History. He became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1960, a Commander of the British Empire in 1966, and was knighted in 1972. He is also a trustee of the British Museum and a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society. His contributions to Critical Inquiry include "Notes and Exchanges" , "Standards of Truth: The Arrested Image and the Moving Eye" , and, with Quentin Bell, "Canons and Values in the Visual Arts: A Correspondence"
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