“Money does not change the sickness, only the symptoms.” John Steinbeck
Following the examples on the management museums last changes, mostly the ones related with Modern Art, it looks like the museum is slowing down its mission of exhibitor and curator. If we focus our attention to art museums, we will be witnesses how masterpieces of art are becoming financial tools, or making money machines, or try to be in last case. Actually, we can mention museums as a container of “capital assets”, because is in this way how some of the museum’s directors and administrators treat their collections. Some cases, if we talk about “museum’s crisis”, is because the result of the open market mentality that started to be global in the 80’s, and changed to be a museum’s global crisis that is putting on the edge of closing a few museums in Europe already and it can be extended to US soon.
The concept pf museums as a heritage guardian has advanced to the museum as business model, with bet selling products in the market being away from the geographic limitations because this museums sell online mostly. This economic management is the one that has been followed by museums as Guggenheim in New York – it couldn’t be other way in the capital of the modern capitalism -, to be conceptualized as a “museum’s industry”, that needs fusions and acquisitions, as to do an aggressive financial management of the entity. This way to manage things, collections, catalogs, products, merchandising are susceptible to be commercialized and to compete in the marketplace opening franchises and having associated offices to sale products under the museum’s brands, even in different internet selling platforms not owned directly by the museums themselves. The target is to get benefits besides ticket’s sales (going down) or to avoid the need to ask to government for help because government is not helping anymore. This is the reason many of the current art museum managers come from financial and marketing fields, not from museum management fields. Museums wants to follow the mercantilism management models, is this way good for museums? We guess not, but… This way to do things turn the art museums to art galleries or cultural centres more than an art traditional museum as we like better.
The american way to do things about museum’s management is growing everywhere, we can see it in many museums around the world already. The running of the commercial activities that museums are doing in the museum’s shops, museum’s restaurants, museum’s bookstores, museum’s coffee shops for instance, business that are placed physically inside the museums following all king of marketing techniques to not only survive but to make more money in the “show me the money first” way. We talk about global strategies of accessibility and promotion that pretend to satisfy the buyers, not the visitors of the museums. Besides that, the use and management of theses marketing techniques applied to museums helps to have an enterprize vision of the museums to maximize just economic benefits.
We will see how everything goes in the future to museums survival, how the museum will be in few years. May be we will visit big shops with small museums inside…