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Thread: Where did I get the phrase "cultural cathedral?"

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    Member Miko's avatar
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    Where did I get the phrase "cultural cathedral?"

    I wrote the phrase 'cultural cathedral' as a desciptor of the modern-day role of museums the other day. In using the phrase, I meant to characterize museums as places where a visitor might experience a sense of awe, humility, aesthetic beauty, and spiritual insight. In other words, a humanistic/cultural site that functions in the same way cathedrals do in the context of religion. It is such a graceful and apt phrase that I knew at once that I couldn't have made it up -- so I looked it up. A quick google search shows that the Getty and the Sydney Opera House have been referred to by this moniker. So, who came up with it? What was its earliest referent? Any help?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Check out this reference from February 1, 1987 on
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/story...558089,00.html
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  3. #3
    Member Miko's avatar
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    Thanks - I grew up off exit 109

    That is the oldest thing I've seen so far, but even he tosses the phrase off as if it's already common. It must have been introduced in some sort of treatise at some point...

  4. #4
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    There's a great website called http://www.wordspy.com that catalogs emerging words. Unfortunatly, this one isn't in there.

  5. #5
    Member Miko's avatar
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    Answer

    Here's where it came from -- thanks to Metafilter.

    The phrase was coined by Carl E Meyer, author of the 1981 book The Art Museum: Money, Power, Ethics and The Plundered Past.

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