CONTEMPORARY ART PRIVATE MUSEUMS
In a scathing review of Damien Hirst’s ongoing Tate Modern retrospective, Hari Kunzru of The Guardian questions museum independence and whether, in the age of mega-wealthy patronage, these institutions are still the arbiters of taste and historical significance they once were.
As reported in The Guardian,
Nothing confers more value on an artwork than its selection for inclusion in a museum show. It is the definitive critical vote of confidence. This, of course, depends on the fiction that such decisions are made on pure, aesthetically disinterested grounds. As sophisticated investors enter the market and work out how the game is played, that particular story is wearing thin.
… Serota, like other museum directors, is expected to find money to run his institution from a variety of sources, including corporations and private individuals, and this makes museums vulnerable to pressure from those who wish to use them to confer value on their holdings. For many years, the Tate had a sponsorship relationship with UBS. One of the benefits received by the Swiss bank were regular Tate shows of works from its collection. Other major corporate collectors routinely negotiate similar deals.
In Asia, where private museums are increasingly filling the gap in public art infrastructure, the issue of curatorial independence may be even more problematic. These exhibition spaces, such as the Salsali Private Museum in Dubai and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi, often take their founders’ collections as the base for their permanent collection. While they provide for an arts education and exhibition platform that is open to the general public, their curatorial viewpoint may be unduly influenced by an economic conflict of interest. In China, it is even common for exhibition spaces to call themselves museums while still selling the works on display like a commercial gallery.
If these trends continue, could they undermine the authority of established contemporary art institutions? Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below.
- Museums in the age of the mega-collector: Can public institutions compete? – WSJ Blogs – February 2012 – a Singapore curator discusses the role of public and private institutions in the local art scene
- New private contemporary art museum for Dubai – December 2011 – a profile of the new Salsali Private Museum and its patron, Ramin Salsali
- Corporate art sponsors replaced by private donors in Australia – Sydney Morning Herald – August 2011 – a shift in arts funding may herald changes for contemporary art museums
- The future of museums – short thought – May 2011 – musings of Art Radar Founder and Executive Editor Kate Cary Evans on how museums’ aims may evolve
- Clarissa Chikiamco on Philippine independent art spaces funding challenge: Philippine Star – July 2010 – how Philippine art institutions lack avenues of funding and the implications of this challenge
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