How Do Museums Pay for Themselves These Days? (circa 2012)

via Huffington Post

Over the past four years of recession and lagging economic recovery, one museum after another across the country has cut back on hours, staff, salaries (and staff benefits) and programming, raised admissions, looked to sell objects from their collections in order to pay for operations or just closed for good. Righting the financial ship has been the order of the day, and Schimmel may just be the latest casualty of this decidedly non-art-sounding trend.

…There is still a sense of denial in museums about change and about financial trouble. We have been in trouble so long, the instability is nearly structural…

Whilst trying to figure out the museum industry in British Columbia, Canada, I kept hearing that many museums were struggling with funding. After visiting a few, interning, talking to and listening to passing conversations of staff, I realised the struggle was real.

Having previously worked in the cultural sector in Singapore, the Singapore complaints of lacking funding seemed less “desperate” than those in British Columbia. Perhaps an unfounded comparison, but that was my perception.

I soon realised that a job in the cultural sector in British Columbia was a really tough challenge, what with mostly part-timers, volunteers and a barely any open full-time positions for locals, let alone a foreigner.

This whole experience really made me think long and hard about how museums function, their ethos and managing their bottom-lines.

Museum of Contemporary Art’s past and future (circa 2012)

via Los Angeles Times

Over the years, MOCA has mounted many great exhibitions. However, the museum has also curated a number of exhibitions that were costly and poorly attended, often exceeding $100 per visitor. In today’s economic environment, museums must be fiscally prudent and creative in presenting cost-effective, visually stimulating exhibitions that attract a broad audience.

There has been much confusion about Schimmel’s departure. For several years, he’s been contemplating a change and has been a candidate for a number of positions at other institutions. Schimmel is a brilliant curator, but the board members recognized the director’s right to put his own team together. When they accepted Schimmel’s resignation, they acknowledged that he has left an indelible mark on MOCA’s history during his 22-year tenure. They look forward to continuing to work with him — together with guest curators from around the world — to develop the world-class exhibitions that MOCA is known for. They also look forward to MOCA showing more of its permanent collection — 80% of which has not been seen in the last 10 years.

Amazed at the surprisingly blunt and honest (?) telling of what happened from a person then still within the establishment. Kudos.

Louvre Abu Dhabi, an Arabic-Galactic Wonder, Revises Art History

via NYTimes

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a fabrication, too. It isn’t an official Louvre franchise. For the equivalent of $1.15 billion, the museum has temporarily leased the Louvre brand. It can use the illustrious name for 30 years and borrow works from the Louvre and a dozen other French state institutions (the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Pompidou, the Bibliothèque Nationale, etc.) for a decade. This will give the new museum time to assemble a permanent collection — the acquisition process is well underway — and create its own version of a global art history.

And what does that history, currently fleshed out with loans, look like? Item by item, pretty sensational. And how does it read as a narrative? The narrative is engagingly well paced, but — and this is true of every encyclopedic museum I’m familiar with — sugarcoated and incomplete.