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Ivory Tower or Discotheque? The Commercialization of Superstar Museums

Nowadays museums are deeply embedded in a global competitive scenario, where the pastiche of cultural genres led to the enrichment and spread of the general competitive environment. Whether on the one hand museums are still considered, and should necessarily be considered, as repositories par excellence of the artistic good, on the other hand globalization has urged them to adopt more and more market logics and strategies in order to survive.
The debate around globalization and commodification of culture outlines the scenario of this dissertation that intends to analyze with a strategic viewpoint the museums’ need of leveraging more and more on market revenues and consequently on the business side of their strategic management.
The attempt of evaluating the possible additional revenue sources for the American superstar museums is epitomized by the extreme, or better to say drastic commercialization pursued by the Guggenheim Museum during the Krensian era (1988-2008) and crystallized by the establishment of international satellites, compared by the critics to an art-McDonald franchise.
Collections have been losing their importance, while bookshops are crucially overrated, ascending the museum building in terms of square foot acquisition. They have even become proper shops, able to sustain themselves ad absurdum, generating revenues through visitors/impulse buyers, who purchase the superstar brand deprived by any artistic content. This is the case, among the others, of MoMA and Metropolitan satellite shops, opened not only in the States but also around the globe to satisfy international buyers, who don’t need to experience the museum anymore, but are just driven by their compulsive interest in having a piece of its brand.

Mostra/Nascondi contenuto.
P a g e | 9 INTRODUCTION Anyone who has spent ten minutes in stunned silence before the Apollo Belvedere, only to find it once again on view a hundred-fold in the museum shop – in miniature, in soapstone, and “coffee table size” – must ask themselves, “ivory tower or discotheque?” Indeed, anyone who has fought their way through a typical Met blockbuster and then discovered that, upon being bodily propelled from the show, they are plunged into a boutique of replicas “Madonna and Child” jig-saw puzzles, poster and catalogues, must ask themselves – “ivory tower or discotheque?” (Adlmann, 1987). In recent decades, the issue about the significant changes taking place in the museum sector has been at the forefront of the cultural debate. One of the leading forces working on this change is the legitimization of the creative industries by governments, while the potential corollaries of these changes are the acceptance of the evolving world that implies that things will never be the same again, in contrast to the possibilities that globalization can bring to the cultural sector (Rentschler & Hede, 2007). The gradual redefinition of museums as cultural centers, which merge community outreach and education with consumption and entertainment, shifts the focus of museums from being repositories of the “muse” to being part of the market, using the same strategies as corporate firms to compete. This means that blockbuster exhibitions, magnificent bookshops and restaurants, etc., created inside the museum, and everything around them, deeply embedded within global networks of media communication, are now an integral part of engaging audiences, advertizing and fundraising for the production of culture and social change (MacDonald, 2006).

Laurea liv.II (specialistica)

Facoltà: Economia

Autore: Alessandra Negro Contatta »

Composta da 137 pagine.


Questa tesi ha raggiunto 266 click dal 19/02/2010.


Consultata integralmente 3 volte.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.