The ultimate status symbol for rich collectors: you own museum!

What an interesting article on The Guardian!

As I already talked about in one of my previous posts, it’s becoming clear that private collectors are trying to substitute public museums by funding or building new exhibition places!

“The new trend comes as the art world sees a major sector shift. While state-funded institutions struggle with budget cuts and dwindling sponsorship, increasing numbers of private collectors are buying contemporary art. This has sent auction prices soaring, making it ever harder for public museums to compete.”

So here it is the same old song… that’s something I already talked about because it’s another aspect of the issues that public museums shoud face:


“Countries as far flung as China and Mexico, Greece and Australia have collectors with grandiose plans for museums that reflect their private, often idiosyncratic tastes. Most do not charge admission, whereas public galleries in the UK now face the prospect of imposing entry fees


Quite interesting if we consider that the news of the day is the donation to the nation (UK in this case) of the content of his Chelsea Gallery by Charles Saatchi (about 200 works of contemporary art). About this, take a look at this article.

But why are they doing so now? Here the mistery revealed!

“Oliver Barker, senior international specialist at Sotheby’s contemporary art department, said that when collectors simply donated to public museums they do not experience the “creative involvement” that they got from creating their own museums with their own taste (like Roman Abramovich’s girlfriend Dasha Zhukova, who’s staging world-class exhibitions in a former bus garage turned contemporary art gallery) “.

There are more and more private collectors from all over the world who want to exhibit their belongings and  to keep  them no longer in storage, and this is because they now need to experience the greater satisfaction of being the creator of something new and completely theirs (and not to be a museum’s benefactor with their name on a label). And all this to the detriment of public museums.

So, here it is: museums can’t stand the collectors’ needs no more and so, the super-riches have decided to become museologists themselves!

And what are  museums doing about that?!?!?!?



New Whitney vs Old Whitney?

Just some updates about the Downtown Whitney Museum project…

As I already written in my previous post, the Whitney Museum is going to start the building of its new site in the Meatpacking District in New York. The only problem now is how to cut the un-necessary costs and to save all the money it is possible to save in order to be able to sustain the making of the project, for example by taking into consideration the use of different materials for the building itself… In fact, we should not forget that even if the museum bought the land from the city council at half the market price, it still needs to raise an additional $215 million to reach its goal of $590 million, most of which would go to the endowment…

As I read in a New York Times article recently, the architect of the project, Mr Renzo Piano, was asked to reconsider some aspects of the design: “As the Whitney struggles to contain costs — and get construction underway before prices creep back up — its architect, Renzo Piano, keeps revising his design in response, trimming here, pushing back there. Critics don’t normally weigh in at this stage of a design or dwell on the many tricky decisions involved in maintaining the design’s integrity in the face of financial pressures. But in this case those pressures are unusually intense, and the way they are resolved will determine the answer to a question on the minds of everyone who cares about the museum: Will the final result be an experience as good as — or better than — Marcel Breuer’s Whitney?”

But all the construction issues are exacerbated by the ticking clock and the fear of having to live down another flop, considering that the project of the new museum had so many stops and restarts…

And, at the end, the real problem is another one: is it really worth it? As even the journalist suggests few institutions’ identities are as closely linked to their buildings as the Whitney’s is to the Breuer.

So, maybe the board should consider this aspect before rushing to such a challenging project, because “for Mr. Piano’s design to really succeed, it will need to rise at least to the same level as the original building as a place to view art. Anything less will not only be a shame for the city, but a defining emblem of failure for the Whitney”.