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Monday, July 12, 2004

Vegas Show Leads to Talk of Museum Reform

The skepticism that the Vegas Monet show was met with has led to... something, but what?

The Association of Art Museum Directors has taken the Bellagio-PaperBall/Museum of Fine Arts, Boston collaboration as a starting point for discussions about museum reform. An Art Newspaper article touches upon the group's concerns and sees a correlation between the current corporate investigations and a Senate investigation involving nonprofit organizations.

"...The Paperball exhibition of the MFA's Monets was discussed at AAMD's last two meetings, with Malcolm Rogers, director of the MFA, addressing the membership on each occasion. Ms Gaudieri believes the exhibition 'doesn't go beyond our guidelines'. It did, however, spur an internal inquiry about how to regulate the commercial aspect of members' activities. 'It's part of a larger issue we are going to try and grapple with in the coming year or so,' says Ms Gaudieri.

'AAMD is concerned about potential ethical conflicts arising between art museums and for-profit organizations,' says Peter Morrin, director of the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, who has just completed his term as president of AAMD. 'Several of our committees will be looking into this issue,' he says.'"

The AAMD's pdf document Revenue Generation outlines a collection of questions to answer the question, "Whazzup with your museum???"

Are traditional funding strategies consistent with the museum's standards of
quality and integrity?

Does the economic climate necessitate the creation of additional revenue

Are prospective revenue streams consistent with the museum's mission,
collection and programs?

Are the motives and means of a prospective revenue stream consistent with the
terms of a museum's non-profit 501(c)3 status and its charter?

Once again, it seems Vegas is being critiqued indirectly, that its embrace of moral ambiguity has made it unworthy of a show of this caliber. But, then again, there is no other city that has quite the need for such an arrangement, others having cultural institutions that would have provided such a show. It's a shame that the AAMD doesn't offer guidance to help foster a place in Vegas that would prevent this being an issue again. But most major cities managed to create home-grown institutions, and a lack of these places seems to validate some views that Vegas is incapable of nurturing cultural outlets. The fact that the Las Vegas Performing Arts Center website no longer functions is proof that the city is in dire need of even some of the most basic big city cultural offerings.

posted by Mr. Kimberly at


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