The Museologist

“Attendance up, income down”

Posted in General by adevereux on February 27, 2010

Not to focus too, too  much on the intersection of museums and economy, but here is an interesting article from the Culture Monster section of the LA Times.


Art + Industry

Posted in General by adevereux on February 11, 2010

The words “art” and “museum” today are virtually inseparable from two others – “market” and “industry”, respectively.  Two facets of what we consider our cultural environment are, in fact, unabashedly pervasive in socio-economic spheres.

Case(s) in point: The Economist recently published  a special report on the art market entitled “Suspended Animation,” providing an in-debth analysis of collections values, auction house sales, and the soundness of arts investments; the MoCA in LA recently appointed as its new director the highly successful New York gallerist Jeffrey Deitch, ostensibly in hopes that his success in the business of art sales will translate to a more lucrative museum business; the museum director (typically the top-most authority of any museum) at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles must answer to the CEO and President of the J. Paul Getty Trust (now Barry Munitz).

This all became even more glaringly obvious with the recent record-breaking sale at Sotheby’s of Alberto Giacometti’s sculpture L’Homme Qui Marche, selling for just over $104 million.

In light of these recent events in the art world that have made it into the news, I’ve started to think more about the marriage of these terms “industry” and “market” to cultural institutions.  In theory it doesn’t seem like they should fit, but they do, and quite successfully.  And in fact, I’m glad when news from the art world is deemed “newsworthy” by those “outside” of it.  As long as we can maintain educational and “cultural” benefits (for lack of more concrete terms), I hope the art world stays as fashionable as it has become.  But is that possible? Is the educational component sacrificed by the prevalence of the big-name-game?

What’s your personal (museum) economy?

Posted in General by adevereux on February 2, 2010

In the most recent issue of the Austin-based contemporary art e-jounal … might be good, the letter from the editor asks readers: what is your personal economy? Geared towards artists, the question yielded answers that revealed how artists make ends meet and the (extra) measures they take to keep art a part of their lives, as a career or otherwise.

This inspired me to ask a similar question of museum-goers: what is your personal museum economy?  In other words, how, and to what degree, do museums make their way into the economies of your everyday lives?  More specifically, how much would you spend on admission to an exhibition? If admission is optional or you can choose your own price (ie the MET), what do you pay? How far would you travel to see an exhibition?  Do you save a portion of your spending money for visits to museums, galleries, or art shows?

Part of the motivation in asking this is to question how much the overlap of museum-going and personal economies shapes our image of museums and how we see ourselves in them.  A museum today might be considered by some a center of learning, but to others a major player in the tourist industry.  Visitors to museums may feel enlightened and stimulated by the materials on display, or perhaps they gain a sense of cultural consumerism.  Of course, these are all the most extreme possibilities, but where does the average museum-goer fall within the spectrum?

…might be good link: