Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

24/7 Museums!

MONALarson

So they’re not open 24 hours a day, but three major cultural spaces in France will now be open 7 days a week. This article in the Wall Street Journal cites overcrowding and disappointed tourists as the reasons why the Musée d’Orsay, the Lourve, and Versailles are keeping their doors open to visitors every day.

Even though there are ebbs and flows to tourism depending on seasons, there has been a consistent increase in tourists  visiting France. The steady crowd in front of the Mona Lisa has grown over the years, and people with fixed travel itineraries have been complaining about the inconvenience of closing the museum for a single day. In the past, each of these museums closed once a week.

The article says that these cultural institutions hope to remedy both of these issues by remaining open the entire week. This will hopefully boost ticket sales and generate more money for the museums, although the author admits that this will be offset by the cost of hiring additional staff.

Out of curiosity, I googled ‘museums 24/7’ and came across this really cool initiative by the Philadelphia Museum of Art! In this case, art actually is available 24/7, albeit online. The museum is undertaking the massive task of photographing each piece and recording it and its information into a collections management database called The Museum System, or TMS. Each entry comes along with bonus features like video clips or audio of curators discussing the object. The Museum also has a social media component to this project, which allows visitors to share their favorite works with friends.

I just visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art this past weekend and had an amazing time wandering through the galleries. It’s enormous! They have a program where they offer free admission to all on the first Sunday of every month, and every Wedesday after 5:00 pm. My visit luckily coincided with this date, so I was able to go for free. On other days, student admission is $14 and adult is $20, which I thought was pretty steep.

When I worked at the Carnegie Museum of Art, we closed every Tuesday and we also charged admission- $17.95 for adults and $11.95 for students, only slightly cheaper than the Philadelphia Museum. The Carnegie Museum is much smaller as well. I wonder what conversations the CMA has had in regards to pricing and availability? As a museum in a college town with a lot of art students and working artists, I wonder how they arrived at this pricing strategy and if it works well for them.

But now you know. If on a whim you decide to hop on a plane tomorrow, it won’t matter what day of the week it is- you can walk into the Lourve and see the Mona Lisa. And you should invite me to come, too.

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3 comments on “24/7 Museums!

  1. awellfare89
    October 7, 2014

    I was surprised to hear that these major museums in France were not open every day. The amount of tourist traffic, even in the off-seasons, I’m sure is overwhelming. The Philadelphia Museum of Art initiative is definitely one of those things that probably made the board of directors squirm a little when it was proposed. They are essentially giving their product away for free. However, the difference between the art and performing arts worlds, as we have read, is that art popularity is highly based on authenticity so you won’t lose your physical attendants just because galleries are online. If anything, they entice you to make a trip to see them in person.

  2. zeniasimpson
    October 7, 2014

    This is great news and shows that museums are attracting visitors at high rates. The Whitney Museum of Art in New York just announced that they’re staying open 36 hours straight for the ending days of the Jeff Koons retrospective. When I went the opening day before museum free hours, the guard told me they already had 1,300 visitors. I watched a panel discussion held at Frieze (or Art Basel not sure) where museum leaders talked about how they see increased number of visitors and even the architectural undertakings institutions have to do to accommodate their guests. Many institutions have already started to expand, including the Whiney that’s moving to the Meatpacking District next year. For some reason, despite so much optimism, I’m somewhat skeptical if museums will thrive in the future. While art tourism is large, I still feel that there are ways museums have to engage audiences and become even more relevant in the day to day lives of people in the cities they are currently in. However, with extended hours and programs like the one in New York where many museums will have free admission, I’m sure the future is bright.

  3. hshambroom
    October 8, 2014

    The Art 24/7 initiative at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is so interesting, and it reminds me a lot of the Google Art Project. If you haven’t checked out Google Art Project yet, I highly recommend it. It similarly allows digital access to hundreds of museums and collections around the world. In many cases you are able to explore not just the items in the collection, but the space of the museum as well, allowing you to get a sense of the space and curation of the collection in addition to the art itself.

    While I think that these digital museum databases are awesome ways for people to have unstructured access to important works and collections, I wonder how this will change or shape arts participation. I think of the surveys we read and how participation through media and digital means is on the rise, and I feel conflicted in the same way – it’s so wonderful to have these as resources for people who are unable to get to or afford to go to an actual museum, but I do think there is something lost in viewing the works through a screen rather than in person.

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