Visiting the Justin Art House Museum (JAHM) has been one of the most welcoming experiences in the ‘art world.’
JAHM deflates ideas of restricted accessibility and exclusiveness that often surround art exhibitions. I dare to say that it also challenges concepts of right, wrong and appropriate practices when dealing with artwork in a space open to the public. Their private space and their passion for sharing with the public their contemporary art collection, from their non-expert point of view, helps to close the gap between the general public and art appreciation. It also makes this house museum unique and worth visiting.
Considering how intimidating a gallery could be, Charles and Leah Justin welcome their visitors to their home with a warm and familiar greeting. Their brief introduction focuses on experiencing the artworks from a personal perspective and not from an ‘artistic knowledge.’ Their emphasis on the validity of multiple perspectives for contemporary art lets no room for pretensions and creates a safe space for the group of visitors.
What is most interesting is the constant overlapping between private and public elements. Although it is a house museum, JAHM has a clear gallery space with some artworks on display spread throughout the house (bedrooms, studio, living room, elevator, toilets) where visitors are encouraged to wander. Leah and Charles offer a curated exhibition twice a year, where not only the artwork in the gallery but some of the artwork in their private spaces will change. Having themes or curated exhibitions is a great idea to have regular visitors, but it is also a clear way to explore contemporary art from different perspectives, which after visiting today I could say it is essential to the message they want to communicate.
As noted on its website, JAHM’s curated exhibitions could be from Charles’ and Leah’s collection or other private collection, with commissioned artworks, or invited curators. Although that could be a threat to my current perception of their house museum, as long as Charles and Leah conduct the tour with their personal perspectives, and keep their space affordable, available and safe for everyone who would like to experience contemporary art, the essence of JAHM will remain unique and truthful.
Pic: Screenshot of http://www.jahm.com.au. Used with permission.