Tim Peake’s Soyuz spacecraft will be loaned by the Science Museum to venues in eight cities around the UK for much of the next decade. Photo: Science Museum Group

Market for exhibitions on culture and society is "saturated", survey finds

Alex Stevens, 17.10.2018
But report finds that there is high demand for fine art exhibitions
The market for exhibitions on culture and society is "saturated", according to a survey of more than 500 art and science museums across Europe and north America by the online exhibitions network Vastari.

The network has collated the data into two reports – one on global trends, and one on exhibition finance – which aim to help museums improve how they “generate income, build collaborative relationships and better serve their audiences” through programming or producing touring exhibitions.

Key findings include:

• That the market for culture and society exhibitions is “saturated”;

• That there's a surplus of demand over supply for fine art exhibitions, “indicating that there is ample room in the market for producers of fine art content”;

• That institutions tend to prioritise cost rather than profitability when considering whether to host touring exhibitions; 

• That nearly one-third more museums in the US and Canada host touring exhibitions than in Europe, “meaning that European exhibition producers could benefit more from transatlantic collaboration”. 

Vastari’s chief executive, Bernadine Bröcker Wieder, said the reports could help museums be more financially resilient: “Exhibitions are an important revenue stream in a time where museums and galleries need to behave increasingly entrepreneurially to build sustainable futures. We see the Vastari reports as invaluable tools in helping museums operate more efficiently and with an informed perspective on how best to collaborate, tour and finance their exhibitions.”

The reports are based on Vastari’s work since it was founded in 2012 and launched its travelling exhibitions network in 2014. 

Former culture minister Ed Vaizey said the publications “will start a conversation on how to make exhibition collaborations work for museums that might have different practices and yet meaningful reasons to want to work together”. 

Louise Hamlin, the director of the Art Business Conference, said they represented “a significant step forward towards an ecosystem that is both more transparent and more connected”.

Museums and non-profit organisations can access the reports free by signing up and completing a survey. 

Photo: Tim Peake’s Soyuz spacecraft will be loaned by the Science Museum to venues in eight cities around the UK for much of the next decade. Credit: Science Museum Group

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