Future museum: public or private?
Van Abbemuseum - Sammlung Falckenberg - MONA Tasmania

Issue no6
Dec -Jan 2022
zigzag 2022 > 2023 + nieuwe collectie

A harrowing example of the growing economic crisis: in the spring of 2011, in the Spanish town of Avilés, the doors opened at the Centro Niemeyer, a cultural centre named after its designer, the 104-year-old star architect Oscar Niemeyer. Only nine months later, the centre closed: the money was gone.

The economic crisis may be hitting Spain especially hard, but cultural budgets are reaching disturbingly low levels elsewhere in the Western world as well. ‘It is no longer a question of whether public-private partnerships are necessary in museums, but how people have to work together,’ as Chris Dercon, newly appointed director of Tate Modern, explained in an interview in frieze in response to a question about the increasing pressures on museum budgets.

In the Netherlands as well, museum after museum is opening exhibitions in which private collectors present their collections. The Van Abbemuseum recently hosted The Collectors Show. Last year, the H+F Collection was presented at the Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, and the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht will soon be showing the famous Martin Visser collection.

Whether or not this embracing of collectors has come in time remains to be seen. In the United States, there were already indications back in 2008 that major collectors would no longer be bequeathing their collections to museums in accepted 20th-century tradition – sometimes in exchange for a plaque with their names in a gallery – but preferred to keep their collections for museums they intended to build themselves.

In November of 2011, the Wal-Mart heir, Alice Walton, opened her Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, which cost $400 million to build. The Netherlands has a variation of its own, now that collector Joop van Caldenborgh, despite his years of involvement with the major museums in Rotterdam and The Hague, has decided to house his famous Caldic Collection in a museum of its own in Wassenaar.

With the exception of China and India, new publicly supported art museums are rarely being built anywhere in the world. Founding new art museums is becoming more and more a private affair.

This remarkable development is a good reason for Metropolis M to zoom in on three different positions: that of the Van Abbemuseum, as a prominent public museum now being encouraged to increase its own income by the city politicians in Eindhoven; the exemplary collaboration of the Sammlung Falckenberg and the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg; and one example of a new private museum, the successful MONA in Tasmania, Australia, opened in early 2011 by professional gambler David Walsh.

We also look at this subject in the framework of the lecture series Facing Forward, which Metropolis M is co-organizing. On March 8, Hans Belting (art historian) and Iwona Blazwick (director of the Whitechapel Gallery in London) will be speaking on ‘The Future Museum’ (for more information, see: www.facingforward.nl).

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Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 6 — 2022