Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Exit through the shop

Gina Fairley, Has the gallery shop gone too far? ArtsHub, 21 April 2016


Image: tnooz.com.

There is an argument brewing that the pendulum has swung too far in the creation of arty merchandise in our gallery shops.

Galleries and museums today are branded as destinations. It is an idea that has been globally championed for close to two decades, and one that has seen attendances driven upwards. Simply, it is a success story.

On the coattails of that brand creation has been merchandising.

Part of rethinking museums has been about making them more accessible by expanding the viewing experience. They are no longer just hallowed white cubes for looking at art, but are destinations for fine dining, places for a hip coffee and somewhere to find that unique “arty” gift.

Exiting through the gift shop – to adopt the title of street artist Banksy’s film from 2010 – has become de rigueur.

Attendance up and dollars in the coffers could hardly be terms for complaint, but many have raised the question of late whether our gallery shops have become too skewed towards crafty coffee cups and coasters?

Has the delicate ecosystem between resource and retail been thrown out as shelf space has a dollar demand.

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