Who’s Going to Pay for All of These New Museum Buildings?
Alexandra Peers has great take on the other side of the art boom: the over-committed expansions and reliance on financial figures for funding:
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 nationwide 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 bedeviling homeowners. [ . . . ] [M]useum directors say they are actually potentially much more nimble than the cash-strapped orchestra or local theater might be because they have such diverse sources of revenue — membership income, facilities rental, donations, endowment, admissions and gift-shop sales. [ . . . ] Going forward, expect more museum positions to be named after donors, the way endowed chairs are at universities, museum executives say. And expect directors to make pilgrimages to the United Arab Emirates. [ . . . ] Last year, the Louvre cut a deal to lend some of its art to a new museum in Abu Dhabi that will be built and funded by that state but bear the Louvre’s name. The agreement netted the French museum in excess of $500 million. And the heads of MoMA and the Guggenheim have traveled to the United Arab Emirates in the past several months, and a slew of museum officials are expected at the opening of Qatar’s huge new Museum of Islamic Art next month.
After the Building Boom (Wall Street Journal)