- having a sense of humor
- acting quickly to add a temporary piece to the collection on almost no notice in a highly unorthodox location (entrance to the bathroom)
- allowing a comedian to run rampant through the halls making fun of priceless collections
- direct on-air request from a national TV star to go visit the National Portrait Gallery
- portrayal of museum directors as good-natured, even funny, people
You may cry, "Pandering!" but I'd argue that this is more than just a media ploy, and it's a long way from cheapening the museum experience. Colbert offers the same funny, incisive commentary on the museum experience that he provides on other topics.
He also reflects visitors' deep-seated questions and prejudices. I laughed out loud when Colbert asked the Director of American History why Helen Keller needed a watch (a burning question not covered in label text). And as he walked through the NPG with its director, giving his own one-word judgments on portraits, he gave voice to the bigger question, "Who cares?" on many visitors' minds, one which they don't feel willing or able to voice.
To me, this is a refreshing inclusion of museums in a larger cultural lexicon, which reinforces the idea that the museum is a place to enjoy, to question, to learn, to challenge, and ultimately, to seek entrance as a "national treasure."
What do you think? Is there something odious about this that I'm missing? What other ways would you like to see museums portrayed in the media?