Neither Public Nor Private: The Hybridization of Museums
This paper takes a preliminary look at the hybridization of museums – the creation of a variety of mixed forms of governance incorporating both public and private governing authorities. Using data from three national surveys of American museums, the analysis documents the mix of types of governing authority and demonstrates how this mix varies across location, over time, and by museum type. The paper then estimates the extent of hybridization using several different indicators and speculates about its implications. The United States offers a particularly informative case because the general view is that American museums are (1) either public or private and (2) predominately private. While the second part of this view may still be a useful characterization of American museums, the first is no longer a particularly helpful way of understanding American museums, or, by extension, other cultural institutions, American or not. It is increasingly necessary to view cultural institutions through the lens of hybridization rather than privatization in order to improve our ability to document and predict their institutional behavior. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998
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