The internalization of global museums: risks and opportunities
The purpose of the present article is to describe and report the analysis of a specific growth strategy developed by a small group of cultural institutions, the so-called global museums. Museums have been traditionally involved with local communities and relatively localized environments; however, during the last twenty years, a new approach to the cultural market - intended at an international level - has been undertaken by a limited number of museums, or, as they have been labeled because of their overlapping characteristics with «mass consumption cathedrals», «hyper-museums». The phenomenon at stake involves the progressive tendency, particularly relevant as for these institutions, to take traditional business administration tools and to apply them to the museum management practice. In particular, the article analyzes the progressive introduction of internationalization strategies to the cultural field that, started with the projecting of touring exhibitions to be sold all around the world, is now leading to out-and-out forms of museum franchising, with the opening of new architectural extravagant branches in foreign cities with urban regeneration ambitions. Theoretical considerations on this topic - taking into account also the effect, on hyper-museums, of the recent international financial crisis and the change of the role of museums themselves in our globalized society - are sided by the description of two significant case histories - the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Musée du Louvre - in order to provide relevant examples of the described phenomenon and to suggest possible future outcomes and potential risks of such an innovative and - yet hazardous - strategic management changeover.
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