Cembalest discusses museum funding, branding, and which museums she loves.
Question: What are the next big trends in art museums?
Robin Cembalest: Well, the way the museums are changing is that they’ve become large--museums are getting bigger and bigger all the time, part of this is… I mean, I think in a past museums… The primary mission remains the same, which is to conserve and show art. Now, however, there’s the idea that the museums is also a kind of, for lack of better word, an entertainment center. Some of the directors use that word more openly. Some of them don’t. Some of the use word branding more openly, some of them don’t, but all of them have to think about this branding and all of them have to think about their institutions not only as a place that people go to see art, but where people go to eat, where people go to shop, where people go to see music, hear music, see movies.
Topic: The corporate impact on museums.
Robin Cembalest: I mean, I would say the corporations historically have funded certain kinds of museums shows, and, with the reduction of government funding, museums did go to corporations more for funding of individual exhibitions. I think, however, the larger trend in museums which are these giant expansions by these big-name architects that become part of a whole mechanism of cultural tourism in cities is more question of governments, of local governments working with the museums which are often private institution in the case of the Guggenheim. So, I don’t know that the corporations, when I think of the larger museum expansions that are going on now, or, for example, in Abu Dhabi, I don’t know how much the corporation have to do with it. I see it’s more is that idea that the museum can bring people to a place, can generate a downtown that was previously neglected, that can really energize a city and this is what we’re seeing, that governments are seeing museums as mechanisms in this.
Question: Should governments be funding more museums?
Robin Cembalest: All right, so that the government funds that is happening outside United States to a large point. The museums that are really growing in the United States are private museums. All of these museums that are expanding from the “Walker Art Centre” to Minneapolis museum, Detroit all of these museums, even if there are un-city land in the city museums, most of the money is not coming from the government, they still have to raise it. Then you take a case like Bilbao, which really had no way to build its own museum, they could have possibly made a collection of modernized art. So, they go to Guggenheim as suppose widely reported at that time, more than 10 years ago to get the expertise, the collection and the brand. So, this now in Abu Dhabi for example where they have a number of museums, brand name museums by the number of brand named architects and they are hoping that the whole thing as a spectacle together is what’s going to generate this cultural tourism. All of the money from that is coming from the government.
Question: What museums are most exciting right now?
Robin Cembalest: I think there are all kinds of museums that are exciting to me right now. I think the MEIAC [phonetic] since I live in New York remains a super exciting museum, that is constantly doing fascinating shows that blow my mind even it themes ranging from archeology to French painting, I think there are smaller institutions that are very interesting like El Museo del Barrio, I think we are going to see very interesting museum for African Art when it reopen on Fifth Avenue. I am try to think inside New York, the Hispanic society has recently become revitalize since it has been collaborating with DIA they did very interesting show recently Francis Alÿs.