Reframing the Museum (1)

I attended the first day of a big, international conference organised by the Louvre Abu Dhabi entitled Reframing the Museum and held, of course, virtually, which has the advantage of no travel costs and of being able to view the proceedings comparatively dispassionately. I was expecting to get a better sense of how museums are going to change than in practice I did. There was an interesting session on new business models in which Frédéric Jousset proposed some: flexible pricing; exploiting the museum’s brand; licencing; jacking up the price of entry and encouraging a business class of entry; not treating visitors as uniform; and re-orienting the museum in order to privilege and give more space to the most popular exhibits. I was interested that Max Hollein in his response said that, of course, museum directors are not inclined to think about their visitors as customers, which sounded to me like a voice from a long distant past. I was left with an impression that, although at the beginning of the pandemic, everyone rushed to go virtual, now we approach its end, everyone can’t wait to be back in reality and that museums may end up being unexpectedly the same after all: symbols of the cosmopolis, as Anthony Appiah so elegantly argued.

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