Bernard Arnault (above, right) has kept schtum about an endowment for the Vuitton museum in Paris. Source: The Art Newspaper
Jori Finkel: Will there be life after death for new private museums? The Art Newspaper, 8 January 2015
From the opening of the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris in October to the construction of The Broad in Los Angeles now set to open this autumn, the model of the single-donor museum is thriving. You’d have to dial back the clock more than a century to the American “robber barons” like Frick, Morgan and Huntington to find another moment in art history when so many great institutions were founded by powerful individuals instead of broader coalitions or private-public alliances.
As also happened during the Gilded Age, critics today have raised questions about these new museums’ devotion to their own communities, whether regarding accessibility or admission fees. But what has not been examined so thoroughly is what will happen to these new institutions on the death of the founder or the decline in their collecting activity.
This issue is especially urgent given the ages of the collectors involved. While Bernard Arnault of the Fondation Louis Vuitton is 65, as is Walmart heir Alice Walton, the founder of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, others who have opened their private art collections to the public are now entering their 70s and 80s.