Museums as consultancies – a new trend for arts organisations?

In an unprecedented move for the museum world, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has started to offer professional advice to collectors, corporations other institutions, the New York Times reports.

According to the article, “museum employees will provide advice and support in areas such as collection conservation and preservation, installation of climate control systems, museum management, and the development of educational programs.”

The program has been put in place after a two-year pilot as a way of guarding against revenue losses from declining government funding and to take the pressure off maintaining high numbers of visitors.

Adriaan Dönszelmann, the director of the museum, said that he believes the consultancy service could generate up to 5 percent of the museum’s annual operating budget, currently €45 million.

Dönszelmann added that the staff who wish to be involved will be able to spend 5 to 10 percent of their time on professional services. If the program is a success, the museum might hire additional specialists.

Could this new source of revenue mark a new trend for arts institutions? Robert J. Stein, the executive vice president and chief program officer of the American Alliance of Museums in Washington, thinks so. “This is a little bit of where cultural organizations are going,” he said. “Most museums had been in the philanthropy-and-ticket business for a long time and are recognizing that some balance of that with earned revenue sources is a healthy position to be in.”

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