Adrian Ellis has a manifesto on plight of museums in the post-recession world in The Art Newspaper:
The global recession that we have entered will not just knock the froth off things; it will permanently reconfigure the cultural landscape. This may happen more slowly and the events may be less flamboyantly newsworthy than the bankruptcy of Iceland, the collapse of the international banking system or the failure of the American mortgage industry, but the underlying forces at work are just as strong—indeed, they are the same forces. [ . . . ] To give some indication of what’s ahead, the last time the art market experienced a major slump followed the 1987 stock-market crash. The art market fell later but further than the stock market, finally hitting bottom in 1993, with prices falling 56% on average. The market was thinner then, and therefore more volatile, but the current recession is broader and deeper, and likely to last longer; and the fall is from a higher speculative peak.
The impact of world recession on museums will be more subtle, but no less profound. The conspicuous consumption that has fuelled the art market is umbilically linked to the conspicuous philanthropy that has fuelled much of the growth in contemporary art museums throughout the US, the Middle East, South East Asia and Europe. These institutions have been significant beneficiaries of the growing and, to many, morally indefensible disparities of wealth throughout the world. It has left them heavily reliant on, and overly attuned and attentive to, a narrow constituency whose long-term appetite or capacity for support is highly questionable. The sector has come to rely disproportionately on the very wealthy, and on the role that museums can play as mechanisms for the translation of wealth into status, and status into power.[ . . . ] Museums of art have tended to rely more heavily on spectacle than programme to attract visitors—loud headlines rather than a fine print of involvement in the community. [ . . . ]
You’ll have to go to The Art Newspaper to see his three strategies to resolve the threat.
The Recession and US Museums (The Art Newspaper)