Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Making the Case for Expansion

As discussed in last week’s lecture, not only are more organizations forming, but many are choosing to expand. This is a big consideration: beyond the capacity to physically expand the organization, once expanded the organization will require a lot more resources to sustain itself over time. This article analyzes the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo who is in the process of planning their expansion.The Gallery has been around since the Civil War era and continues to be known for its contemporary art and paintings. The permanent collection, provided by benefactor Seymour Knox Jr., at any given time is only partially on display due to the design of the building. To be more specific 2-3% of the permanent collection can be shown at one time in the 19,000 sq. feat of exhibition space.  Another issue in the design of the Gallery is a lot of the newer contemporary art pieces don’t fit through the museum’s doors.

This case seems like a situation where with the proper economic planning, the expansion would be for the best. It is important to consider when expansion is necessary and when it is without purpose or outside of an organization’s capacity.

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One comment on “Making the Case for Expansion

  1. hshambroom
    October 8, 2014

    This is shockingly similar to the museum where I currently work. We are also in the process of expanding. Similarly, there was public concern about this expansion. The current space is about 25,000 sq ft. and holds 3-5% of the collection. The new space will be about 5 times that size and the hope is that over the course of 10 years, every piece in the collection will be on view at least one time. It has been interesting working at a place that is expanding in such a way. As I see the physical, organizational, and institutional changes that are rapidly occurring, I can’t help but think about Andrew’s presentation – that in expansion a museum doesn’t just become a bigger animal, but a different animal. This is such an important element to keep in mind as arts organizations expand – and I wonder, if they are becoming a “different animal” does that transformation affect its mission? And what are the implications of that?

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