Museums neglect core tasks in favour of popular exhibitions: report

Photo: Dario Crespi via Wikimedia Commons

The pressure on museums to organise frequent, low threshold exhibitions is increasing visitor numbers but is also eating up a large part of their budget at the expense of other tasks, the Council for Culture warned on Thursday.

In a report titled A Delicate Balance, the government advisory body says that although blockbuster exhibitions make money, they are not making enough to counterbalance the cost of staff and maintenance. An increasing number of museums are struggling, the council says, adding that museums depend for around half of their budgets on state subsidies.

The council also fears that the money spent on big exhibitions is not compatible with the museums’ task to safeguard and curate their own collections, which takes time and money but is not as interesting to the public. There is also the danger of a ‘lack of content’ if museums focus too much on popular exhibitions, the council writes.

The council recommends more attention be paid to training young curators. Most of the people currently in the job are approaching retirement age and, according to the council, it is vital their knowledge of the collection is not lost to the next generation.

Museums also need to attract a more diverse audience, promote exchanges of exhibits between museums, digitalise the collection for marketing purposes and improve entrepreneurship.

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