Tuesday, December 01, 2015

"The letters were sent after an article in The New York Times earlier this year that examined the proliferation of tax-exempt private museums created by wealthy art collectors, sometimes in their own backyards." (UPDATED)

The NYT's Patricia Cohen reports that the Senate Finance Committee is looking into the issue of collector-founded museums, "questioning whether the tax-exempt status they enjoy provides sufficient public benefit to justify what amounts to a government subsidy."  Her earlier article is here.

As I said when the previous article was published:

"My general take on this is that, while there are certainly valid concerns here, one way to look at these arrangements is as part of the deal we make in order to get broader access to these (amazing) collections eventually.  ...[T]hink of Glenstone as a future Barnes.  Some day we will cherish the collection the way people cherish the Barnes.  If part of the price we have to pay to get there is to allow the founders to keep the collection close to their hearts (and living rooms) in the early years, that doesn’t seem like too bad a deal. Life is short, art is long."

Or, as Cohen puts it in the last paragraph of the new story:

"Several well-established art institutions, like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the Frick Collection in New York, the Phillips Collection in Washington and the Barnes Collection in Philadelphia, grew out of a wealthy art collector’s private purchases."

UPDATE:  Paddy Johnson says "[h]onestly, this is a good thing. The Brant Foundation, for example, is open to just about nobody most times of the year, putting into question the public good the museum serves."