Banks Impacting Art Exhibitions

“The income we have generated through increased business is superior to any income we could generate from selling the collection… Attracting even one individual client can cover the entire cost of lending a turnkey exhibition.”

So says Rena DeSisto, head of “global arts marketing” for Bank of America in a piece by Robin Pogrebin for the NYT.  I take it as another sign that art goes where the money is.

It seems prominent banks have taken to lending works to American museums, including this work, Martin Wong’s Brainwashing Cult Cons Top TV Star (c. 1981) recently donated by JPMorgan Chase to the Bronx Museum of the Arts.  Corporations and others have long sponsored art exhibitions, but recently museums have begun allowing Banks to put together complete exhibitions of their own works, and it may be a sign some museums are ceding curatorial control

Is this another signal of the impact the recession of 2008-09 is having on the arts?  Or is it more of the same.

The Association of Art Museum Directors does not have a policy on the practice.  Pogrebin’s piece states:

The Association of Art Museum Directors has no policy governing shows organized by corporations and “would not be against it,” said Michael Conforti, the association’s president, “as long as the people involved felt comfortable themselves that a show complied with their curatorial standards.”  What museums need to be conscious of, art experts say, is creating the impression that these exhibitions enhance the value of corporate collections that might one day come to market. “A museum has to think very seriously about taking those shows,” said John Ravenal, president of the Association of Art Museum Curators and curator of modern and contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. “The museum, by virtue of its stature and its public role, gives legitimacy or confers a certain kind of validity to these collections when it exhibits them. 

Hat Tip:  The Consumerist 

Questions or Comments? Email me at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.