Glenn Adamson on New York and London’s Distinct Museum Cultures

Interview in Hyperallergic 5/5/2016 with Dr Glenn Adamson, former Head of Research at V&A, and most recently, Head of MAD in New York.  In this interview he discusses the differences between the museum cultures of New York and London. He starts by stating that the most striking distinction is that the collections in USA are overwhelmingly private, and those in Europe are mostly public, so the public museums have to be more accountable and receptive to the needs of their audiences.  This also means that in US there is a greater tradition of philanthropy than there is in Europe, although there is a trend towards sponsorship of exhibitions and museums in Europe as state funding is increasingly limited.  In US there is also a different art market, where artists are more ‘out there’ selling work to survive, rather than at the other extreme of Scandinavia where artists are heavily subsidised.  He also comments on what he terms the ‘cultural preparedness’ of British people to visit museums: he cites that more people go to museums than football matches in UK, which is the opposite to USA.  He thinks the British education system leaves people with an expectation that they will be involved with culture in one form or other. This also goes  back to public funding and accountability.