每日英語跟讀 Ep.K040: From Buffalo to San Antonio and Beyond, Museums Woo Members
When financier Jeffrey Gundlach showered $42.5 million on the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, it radically altered the museum’s long-term agenda.
The gift was predicated on the challenge that the museum raise $50 million more in just three months, with the money going to a major new building as well as an operating fund that would help guarantee its upkeep.
Such transformative gifts are unusual for any museum, but they are rarer in cities where wealth is not as high as in cosmopolitan behemoths such as New York, Houston or Los Angeles. Smaller cities generally lack the influx of newcomers who are willing to make a splash with a big gift in their adopted city, and their museums depend on luring repeat visitors.
Sometimes, to do that, museums are forfeiting admission fees. As Julian Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, puts it: “If a museum is free, you can come and go. You can come often and do one gallery at a time. A museum can be like a restaurant, you can taste one thing at a time.”
Indeed, of the 242 museums that are members of the Association of Art Museum Directors, fully one-third are free, said the association’s director, Christine Anagnos.
That trend puts particular pressure on institutions to exploit their existing resources and to bond with other local arts organizations in original programs for the public. Whether these programs take place in the museum or outside, the strategy is to lure more visitors who may well become members.
And museums are doing just that. Erik Neil, who took over as director of the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, three years ago, said that 75 percent of the museum’s visitors come from within 50 miles.
Neil has worked to involve African-Americans as well as personnel at the nearby Navy base and lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual groups. Among the efforts: an exhibit of “Women and the Civil Rights Movement” and “Thomas Hart Benton and the Navy.”
To make the Chrysler Museum more welcoming, Neil has done away with museum guards. Instead, he relies on paid employees to act as hosts to visitors. For example, he said, “If visitors have questions, the employees can get in touch with a curator for the answer.”
Directors are also breaking through museum walls to extend the art experience into the streets and on to museum lawns with cocktail evenings for young members or even art events that go beyond the museum doors.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/320440/web/