Sunday, May 4

Bikini Nation

Is Halle Berry's bikini appropriate for the Imperial War Museum, which otherwise remembers Britain's wartime? Halle's bottoms are part of an exhibition of James Bond memorabilia now on display and meant to boost visitor traffic - which it does. The bigger question, Dear Brother, is whether our cultural institutions are being dumbed-down following free-entry introduced by Labour seven-years ago. There is no doubt that more Brits go to museums and galleries - up 83% since 20001 - but at what cost? Museums, including Sonnet's V&A, compete for finite government or lottery largesse divided, in part, on foot-traffic - the more visitors, the more cash. In response museums have given the people what they want: special exhibitions that draw the suburban bus-loads. Examples are dinosaurs and the inner workings of the lavatory. For its part the V&A, following last year's popular Kylie Minogue exhibition replete with shiny golden worn hot-pants, now displays dresses from the Supremes (this is NOT hosted by Sonnet's department). It seems to me that our museums should be resisting the infantilisation of British culture but alas often they seem to be leading the charge. Still, Halle Berry is hot and Moe and I used to go to Bond double-features so why me protest? I wonder.