“Permanent collection reinstallation” is such a dreary term. It sounds like a medical procedure one would rather skip. But with a rehang of a superb collection of American art like the Brooklyn Museum’s, it ought to be a joy. The museum has always packed a powerful curatorial punch—but this flat fifth-floor installation, driven by an identity-oriented agenda, says plenty about the status of American art in the museum.

The show begins with a whimper, with introductory wall text lacking any visual drama. Given the unfolding show, this seems deliberate: the curators don’t much like American art and don’t know what to do with it.

The text framing the show briefly evokes predicatable themes of race and privilege, but these expressions seem rote.

 

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