Art museums suffer in downturn – Artintern, Wall Street Journal


The economy’s swoon is taking a particularly tough toll on art museums, according to and the Wall Street Journal.The art boom of the past two decades, and the resulting skyrocketing costs of acquisitions and insurance, led museums to staff their boards with more than a few deep-pocketed executives from real estate firms, financial institutions, and hedge funds-industries that are now among the hardest hit.

Plus, the tough times come at the tail end of a boom in museum expansions, and many of those glamorous buildings and new wings are not yet paid for. A handful of major institutions financed those expansions with bond issues that face the same climbing adjustable interest rates that are plaguing homeowners.

For some time, most museums have been betting that a golden age of giving was soon to end. But even institutions that braced for a downturn say the stock market’s decline, the bankruptcy or disappearance of major investment banks, and the liquidity crisis have made this one unique. “We know from history the bell curve of support goes down,” says Emily Rafferty, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “But as far as the corporate world is concerned, we’ve never seen anything like this current climate,” she says. “We need to navigate a very, very difficult time.” Read more at Wall Street Journal

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