Monday, January 24, 2011

File Under "It's Only Wrong When Brandeis Does It"

The New York Times had a story this morning on how, with "government subsidies ... falling and corporate donations ... dwindl[ing] as the economic crisis spreads," European museums are "seek[ing] new revenue sources."

That includes the following:

"Museums are also raising money by sending masterworks on global tours. World-class institutions like the Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum in New York used to swap paintings at no cost but now charge fees and prospect more aggressively for alliances with foreign museums. Some French institutions have sent out traveling exhibitions, essentially renting entire shows to eager regional museums in the United States and Asia .... The Pompidou Center, which earned $1.9 million from traveling exhibitions last year, hopes to double that in 2012. The Musée d’Orsay sent Impressionist works on a three-year tour to San Francisco, Madrid and Nashville (where the tour is now), a trip it expects to yield more than $13 million."

So can we please have a stop to the hand-wringing about the Rose Museum's plans to do this? Is that too much to ask?

I also got a chuckle out of this:

"'There is a risk,' [the director of the French research institution Option Culture] said, 'that one day state authorities will say to museums, We are cutting your subsidies because you can rent your artworks or you can even can sell your artworks' to raise additional revenue."

In other words: we can't exploit this legitimate source of revenue, because then people will stop giving us more money. You sometimes see similar arguments against deaccessioning in the US: we can't let museums sell work because then rich people will cut back on their giving. You can't make this stuff up.