Sunday, December 4, 2011

Serve the stuff or the people?

In response to Rainey Tisdale's question, Do History Museums Still Need Objects?, David Crosson asks “Are we here to serve the stuff or the people?”

My comment was this:

The City of Detroit owns the Detroit Institute of Arts. The DIA collection has many, many billions of dollars of financial value as well as priceless cultural value. Given Detroit's fiscal crisis, would the people choose to keep the DIA collection intact and give up essential municipal services, or would they cut the DIA collection (10%? 20%? 80%? 90%?) and use the funds to maintain services and jumpstart a recovery? That would be a very stark choice if those were indeed the only options. Fortunately, Detroit can have its Monet and money, too, with Coaccession:

With the capital income that financial value could produce in an endowment, Detroit could fully fund the arts that created the value as well as the essential services that let Detroit residents stay near it.

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