When The Private Becomes Public: A Look at Privately Funded Public Museums
TarraWarra Museum of Art Ltd is described on its website as being 'the first privately funded, significant public visual arts museum to be set up under the Australian Government's philanthropic measures announced in 1999.' As a relatively recent development in Australia what is the future of private but public, or, public but private museums? Do we find the morphing of public and private a discomfort? Have we so embraced the roles of state funded museums in public education, public values and public trust, to be unnerved and wary of the display of private wealth and beneficence in private museums? I'd like to discuss TarraWarra in the light of several private/public museums in Europe: Insel Hombroich in Neuss, Germany; Wauser and Wirth Collection, Henau Switzerland and the Saatchi Gallery, London. Can these museums initiate 'risky' projects or take up unfashionable causes, or advance innovative ideas? Can they explore what governments give a wide berth or steer clear of, or simply can't afford? Or are they a new face, in Australia at least, of corporate and private ownership? In discussing these issues I will consider the vision and mission of these museums, scale of exhibitions and public programs, publications and staffing and public support.
At Any Cost - Exploring the Viability of Museums in the Modern Age