The value banks get from their art collections has become something more than an academic question of late. But The New York Times’s Robin Pogrebin begins to answer that question during her exploration of pre-packaged museum shows. Here we get a glimpse of the size, scope and earning potential (both in direct fees and in marketing value) of these large corporate art collections:
Given the current state of the economy and the considerable expense of maintaining and storing art, corporations might be expected to want to sell all or part of their collections, and many smaller companies are doing some divesting. Bank of America considered selling off its entire collection of about 60,000 pieces — all gathered through acquisitions of other banks with art collections — even before the downturn. But the bank determined that there were other marketing benefits to be gained from the collection.
“We have determined that a sale would result in an overall loss or a break-even, and that it is better used as a community support and marketing tool,” the bank’s Ms. DeSisto said: associating the bank with arts patronage and charitable giving, providing access to prospective clients in museum trustees and donors, offering opportunities for client entertainment.
Bank of America said its cost per exhibition can range from $5,000 to $25,000, depending on how far the artwork needs to be transported, and Ms. DeSisto said the expenditure — which she declined to quantify — has paid off. “The income we have generated through increased business is superior to any income we could generate from selling the collection,” she said. “Attracting even one individual client can cover the entire cost of lending a turnkey exhibition.” […]
Deutsche Bank, with a collection of about 56,000 pieces, has made art “a major part of our identity as a bank,” said Liz Christensen, the company’s curator for the Americas. Work from the collection, including pieces by prominent artists like Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist, is displayed in the public areas of the bank’s headquarters and in branches in 41 countries. And the reach of that identity is extended by its shows, like the coming “Beuys and Beyond,” featuring about 50 works on paper by Joseph Beuys and his students from the Düsseldorf Art Academy, which will travel over the next two years to museums in five countries, possibly including the United States.
Bank of America, which has four to five exhibits lent out at any one time, has a show of 30 watercolors of the American West painted by Alfred Jacob Miller in the early 1840s headed for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., next year. It is then bound for the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, followed by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
And Now, And Exhibition from Our Sponsor (New York Times)