Monday, June 15, 2009

To Display Money

In discussing the relationship between art and money, Thompson touches on some interesting points which lead me to wonder why it is that donors continue to donate artwork or even funding to museums. For instance, Thompson notes that despite being urged by officials to list the value of their entire collection (which includes the “locked-away” portion) on their accounting sheets, museum curators refuse to do so on the grounds that they believe “revealing the true value of the collection would signal to donors that the museum has no need of philanthropy; they could simply sell or lease art to finance new acquisitions (187).” Adding to that, Thompson goes on to highlight the case of Burton and Emily Tremaine, a couple who discovered that when they simply gave a work to a museum it usually was placed held in storage for an extensive amount of time. However, when they sold a work to a museum, the museum often displayed the piece as well as generated promotion for it. They came to the conclusion that “curators most appreciated items for which they had to give up a large part of their acquisition funds (188).” Keeping that in mind, why is it do you believe that donors continue to donate when museums are so guarded and standoffish when it comes to being open about their possessions and economic state, and when curators seemingly displays only those works they purchased? Furthermore, do you agree with Thompson when he states then when curators do so “purchase price is presented to museum patrons as equal to value (188)?”

38 comments:

  1. Financial ambition is often what fuels donations of works -- a "tax write off", for example, for a work of art. But what is curious about this is the fact that artists cannot "write off" the full value of a work of art (in terms of depreciation or loss) but philanthropists can, when they donate the work to a non-profit.

    If we were to use apples: apples comparison (making the price of works known), it would be devastating to the museum community because visitors would compare the cost of a work of art to what that money could buy in the world outside of art. This puts art on the same playing field as road improvements, houses, and luxuries -- and it is not the same. There is much to be gained by many through the assets of a museum as an institution and these often come at no cost to the visitor. Thankfully!

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