Museums between Private and Public the Case of the Beyeler Museum in Basle
Zurich IEER Working Paper No. 116
26 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2003
Date Written: June 2002
In Europe, ever more private museums are now entering the field. This paper investigates the behavior of one of these private museums, using an institutional approach of cultural economics. The Beyeler museum in Basle, Switzerland, is a privately founded art museum with an extraordinary collection of art works. Though less than five years old, it is acknowledged to be the most successful museum in Switzerland in terms of number of visitors. However, the Beyeler museum is not completely private but receives public support. We analyze how this influences the museum's behavior: (1) The directorate of the Beyeler museum stays away from the art market with its collection as public institutions do. (2) The museum embarks on a self-propelling process concerning special exhibitions, therewith losing some of its uniqueness. (3) Concerning visitors' amenities, differences between private and public museums emerge but to a lesser extent than expected according to theory.
Keywords: Museums, special exhibitions, state support, cultural economics
JEL Classification: Z1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation