Are They Museums - or Businesses?

By Daniel Grant. Daniel Grant writes from Amherst, Mass., and is of "The Business of Being an Artist. " | The Christian Science Monitor, March 22, 1993 | Go to article overview

Are They Museums - or Businesses?


Daniel Grant. Daniel Grant writes from Amherst, Mass., and is of "The Business of Being an Artist. ", The Christian Science Monitor


MUSEUMS seem to do everything for visitors these days except give them a bed for the night. They provide parking, food, and opportunities for singles to meet. They offer a myriad of gift ideas, arrange vacations (domestic and foreign), and host parties in the galleries. Entrepreneurship is alive and well at America's museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, for instance, earns 9 percent of its income from what are called "auxiliary services," that is, activities that are not specifically related to the purpose of the institution.

Everyone notices what is going on. Critics complain that the efforts made to market museums to the widest possible audience dilute, or perhaps interfere with, the educational objectives of the institutions, while many people like the opportunity to buy exhibit posters and get a bit to eat without leaving the building. Still others contend that the search for new sources of revenue provides only minor distractions, and these are simply ways of keeping the museums open and available to the public.

Whatever one's feelings about these developments, the restaurants, mail order catalogues and other offerings are but symptoms of a larger problem: Where is the money to come from in order to run these institutions?

The problem has become increasingly acute as museums have seen declining financial assistance from foundations since the late 1970s, the federal government since 1980, corporations since the mid-1980s and state governments since 1989. Changes in the federal tax code have also decreased incentives for charitable giving by private individuals.

Museums have also found themselves boxed in by strong guidelines established last year by the American Association of Museums in Washington. These prohibit member institutions from using any money raised through deaccessioning works in their collections - renting them out - for any other use than making new acquisitions. The association threatens to withhold or withdraw accreditation to museums that don't comply.

There are valid reasons for the association's stand. Museums are public trusts whose collections should not be seen as quick cash for bonuses, perks, and other relatively frivolous activities.

Using a collection as a regular source of money also detracts from the more legitimate need on the part of the museum's directors and trustees to develop an adequate fund-raising strategy. However, many smaller institutions, such as historic houses and less well-endowed museums, have found this regulation onerous. For these museums, there are often more objects than money to properly care for them. Insuring collections and providing up-to-date security measures - not to mention salaries, heat, light and power, and sundry other vital expenses - are all more expensive. All of these costs are rising at a time when traditional sources of revenue are offering less.

The result is that museums have skewed their operations and practices in the search for money. Among the more recent examples is the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, which rented - or, as the museum prefers, made a "loan" of - more than 60 of its finest Impressionist paintings to a Japanese electronics company in exchange for about $2 million in cash. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Are They Museums - or Businesses?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.