The Rise and Rise of the Private Art Museum by Georgina Adam - review by James Delbourgo

James Delbourgo

Where’s Your Jasper Johns?

The Rise and Rise of the Private Art Museum


Lund Humphries/Sotheby’s Institute of Art 104pp £19.99

Seen an Ai Weiwei in your local Lidl lately? Perhaps not, but you might one day. Right now in Shanghai and Beirut, there are shopping malls that sport pricey contemporary art. It’s a way, they say, for art to grow and reach new audiences who don’t really fancy the whole white cube thing. It’s all about ‘dwell time’. Look at the pictures, the vids, the objects. And shop. And then shop a bit more.

This is art the way private collectors want us to see it, according to art market expert Georgina Adam. Private art collectors are everywhere, cannot be stopped and can do whatever they want – unlike our dearly beloved, labouring national galleries. Private collectors move fast, disrupt and innovate. They can react – deaccessioning a few Rothkos, for example, and promoting art by women and minorities instead. Above all, they have a lot of money and they want immortality. So they’re founding private museums all over the world and they want you to visit them – well, some of them do.

Care to guess how many private collectors and museums there are in the world today? Some brave souls at least try to measure the rate of growth. Here’s one eye-catching number: The Private Art Museum Report states that 70 per cent of private museums in operation today were

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