Throughout this analysis, I will be setting modern andless modern ideologies of the museum and gallery sector by examining businessmodels from visual art institutions in London and how their status and valueshave shifted due to emergent challenges such as globalisation and adaptation todifferent communication tools. By drawing from Foucault’s idea of an enlightenmentinstitution through Krauss textof ‘the late capitalist museum’ to Reem Kelani’sKickstarter campaign that turned toa recording, then a concert in Richmix, this paper isaiming to clarify what the sectoris all about and what ideologies led museums andgalleries to this stage and whatthe current stage is exactly at all.The first part of the paper reflects on definitions bythe academy and gives an overall view of how vision and mission statementsevolved within these institutions. In order to fully analyse the sector, thefirst part of the writing describes how the notion of public ownership alteredaccording to the needs of the economy and society. The second part argues the direction towards a moreradical model of the museum is right and what kind of solutions the sector hasbeen provided to issues that are related to funding and sponsorship, policy,diversity, levels and types of employment and ownership.
Introduction – Getting and Spending In the 90s’ George Goldner, curator of the J. Paul GettyMuseum said, “There will be some people who will want to turn the museuminto a dealership”. Two decades later spending a whole afternoon in theVictoria and Albert Museum, wondering around the building with a cup ofcoffee in our hand is one of the greatest things that London can offeron a Sunday. Certainly, there is a more radical model taking a shape inthe world of visual art institutions: they are more experimental, less architecturallydetermined, more politicized engagement with our historical moment, andmake all the effort to keep their already existing audience and attract manymore.From Foucault, we learned that a museum is the worst sortof Enlightenment tendencies to totalize, categorize and control the world.According to his writing, museum is an institution whose power to collect anddisplay objects is a function of capitalism and imperialism, and whose power toform individuals within an institutionally controlled and publicly monitoredspace.
Ever since, this clearly negative and kind of disturbingessay was published, museums have varied enormously in many ways – still verymuch mired in history, also in bureaucracy.However, a good case in point towards positive changes isthat since then there arevariety of ‘art spaces’ opened their doors –if there aredoors at all-, pop-up galleries or multifunctional venues (e.g.: gallery/printstudio) got supported and made London’s art scene more vivid. And institutionswith long histories have ‘rebranded’ their objectives and visual statementsjust to keep up with their audience’s needs. Presumably, due to the unsettling economy to have thegovernment as the only support would be impossible for all of these artinstitutions. That can be the reason behind the fact that institutions turnedto more like “market-driven- operations” and the income from the audience andsponsors is as essential as to get funded by the government.The aim of this study is to identify the museum andgallery sector, to explore their business models and the way they have beendeveloped and what the evidences are of market failure.
The sector, its the definition and the public ownership In order to understand what visual art institutions are,first it is substantial to define and recognize the distinctions between museumand gallery, in particular between art institutions in London. Even though, this essay is not necessary aiming toanalyse contemporary art institutions, it would be interesting to point out thelink between the sector itself and contemporary art, as well as, to find outhow internationalism effected on institutions that objective is to celebrateold masters. In ancient India, chitrashalas -paintinggalleries- were a mean of education as well as a source of enjoyment, thepaintings, sculptures, and performances were all providing lessons in history,religion, and art; they were and are now reflecting the culture and thesociety; and encourage the viewers to debate and to raise questions.Galleries and museums are two different types ofentities, and between them the primary difference is that while someone goes toan art museum to view art, the other one goes to an art gallery to view art,from the perspective of purchasing the art.Museums can be public or private, but what distinguishesa museum is the ownership of a collection and most commonly display paintingsand art objects while galleries often host artistic activates, such as concertsor poetry reading.
Galleries, alike museums, can be public and private and itis divided by their orientation.Public museums and galleries are defined as institutionswith permanent collections, governed by elected or appointed board, and majorpart of their supports are provided by parliamentary appropriation. They existfor the stewardship of its collection and for the education of the public.
Onthe other hand, private museums and galleries exist in a civic capacity basedon public trust, whose operating budget and endowment were established withoutgovernment support. There are single-donor visual art institutions,dominantly galleries, these are founded by a single private collector and canhave an independent board of trustees, or been governed by the board thatoversees its foundation. They can also have non-profit status and become publicjust like Somerset House did.By their cultural aspect, these art institutions havebeen designed with a cultural purpose or been subject to politicalintervention, especially national galleries and museum whose mission is toaddress the feelings of nationalism.
Because museumsprovide multiple social benefits –besides some of them propagate fashion andconformity-, multiply goals are inherent in their mission. The use of the word ‘mission’ is appropriate for theWhitechapel Gallery as it was part of a Christian Socialist notion of socialreform that saw aesthetics, in line with the ideas of art critic John Ruskin,as a way to improve people’s lives and their moral universe. It was founded in1901 and developed out of a twenty year of ‘Whitechapel Picture Exhibition’with the belief of “there can be no real unity as long as people in differentparts of a city are prevented from admiring the same things”.
As part of a growing internationalism in more thanhundred years the gallery became a touchstone for contemporary art in Londonand ever since breakdown the bias thoughts of art history and challenge the ‘normal’. The sector and the funding The last twenty years have seen a hugediversification of museums as a category, and the most significant change hasbeen the increasing dependence on donations and corporate sponsorship as governmentsgradually withdraw public funding from culture in the name of ‘austerity’. The government grants for the British Museum, forexample, since 1993-1994 until now from 81 percent has declined, therefore themuseum has increasingly had to turn to patrons and private sector sources includingcorporations, for the support of programs.The National Portrait Gallery quite a good example how artinstitutions can face with common challenges and found ways to increase itsincome from corporate sponsors, shops, restaurants, cafes, admission fee,membership, venue rentals, by lending paintings to the public, and from privatedonors – it is a long a list. With the sponsorship by BP, the National PortraitGallery have started running an annualportrait award, which is a competition that everyone canparticipate worldwide with a total prize fund of £74,000. Supposedly, here asponsorship is growing to a collaborative partnership.
The complexity of the partnership of museums andgalleries brings up questions such as “who should pay for the arts and culture?”,”who should decide?”; and “what difference should it make?” The state of theseinstitutions has also been described as the hybridization of the public andprivate museum as their ownership have shifted in the last years.As the museums and galleries are operating in acontinuously changing environmentgetting supported is never granted. Admittedly, fundinghas an essential role in an organization’s identity, and it can influence itsmission statement, vision and long-term goals.
The sector and the audienceMuseums and galleries serve diverse audiences withdistinct needs, perceptions, and expectation. As all the organisations playdifferent roles in London, enthusiastic visitors, members, volunteers, and thecommunity have a particular competence in building audience and support.Museums may attract single-time visitors, but their maingoal is to build a long-term relationship with the visitor. They may have alarge number of visitors yet find it difficult to convert them into regularmembers. Visitors are the lifeblood and they contribute income. They come tolearn and hope for surprise and excitement as they escape temporarily fromtheir predictable everyday lives.The sector is concerned about engaging eight types ofconsumers. They seek to attract new visitors; convert single time visitors intomembers; retain existing members; building diverse audience with an emphasis onattracting young adults and ethnic groups; convert members to donors; enlistvolunteers; and attract tourist.
By attracting a diverse audience Tate gave a good exampleby being the pioneer of reaching out at young people. Tate Britain and TateModern, the two galleries in London, opened in 2000 and now attract over 6.5million visitors a year.
Tate has made a gallery-wide decision to targetyounger visitors with a variety of effective strategies. Creating programs byyoung people for young people and changing the traditional communication toolsto digital ones by developing their social media presence, keeping theirwebsite user-friendly and updated all led Tate to reposition galleries as interestingplaces to be, and young people, the audience of the future became extremely importantto Tate. More than a quarter of visitors to its four galleries are under twenty-fouryears old.
The sector and human resourcesThe museum and gallery’s human resources –the board,director, staff, and volunteers- are major component of marketing and strategy.Building a committed museum and gallery boards, senior management, and governanceexperts all require strategic planning and a long-term investment of time andenergy. Boards function in a variety of ways depending on the characteristicsof given museum, its history, the type of community it serves, its scale, andrelated actors.
Museum board members represent a vital link to the environment.They are likely to be contact with a wide range of constituencies and publicswhose support isessential to a museum.However, in 2015 the National Gallery’s management havethought differently. And to cut down the gallery’s expenses they decided toreplace them by security guard.
The result was a more than 2-month-long strike,have shut down most of the National Gallery and made the public concerned. The sector and the futureMuseums and galleries are vital institutions that define,record, and sustain civilisation. Without them, would be hard for the people tounderstand their past and cope with its present. These institutions differ in anumber of aspects yet confront common challenges.
In responding to an intricateenvironment wherein museums and galleries compete for the visitors they have becomemore complex. By developing their online presence museums and galleries anaudience that is enormous in size and can make a big impact on people habit inengaging with art. This analysis aimed to point out these challenges and byexamples from London, showing ways how art institutions can face with them.