Monday, July 13, 2009

I Wish I Was Smart So I Could Get Chicks

Michael O'Hare wonders why museums haven't gotten more attention as either (a) first date locales or (b) places for smart young people to meet other smart young people. There are a number of logistical reasons for this: museums are frequently located in business districts that shut down at 6pm or places that don't have any adjacent restaurants or coffee shops. They tend not to do a very good job of advertising events to encourage regular patrons; most museums still operate under the assumption that almost all of their visitors will show up exactly once. And there's a certain appeal to feeling like you're part of a crowd, which museums can't offer unless they're holding a book signing or other event. I believe the New York Public Library has had some success in becoming a hip venue by hosting talks and wine & chees nights and the like. I feel like I've heard of similar programs at LACMA as well, but it's unclear whether strategies that work in the country's two largest metropolitan areas are portable to the smaller cities.

O'Hare separately laments the rental of museum facilities for large private events (primarily weddings and conferences). It's better to think of rental offerings as a "public option" of sorts. The rates for museum rentals, as well as for other public venues such as city parks, are usually modest compared to private alternatives—hotels, conference centers, and idyllic properties held by the bridal-industrial complex. Without public properties as an anchor, the obscene mark-up at private venues would be even worse. In addition, getting more people into museums as opposed to hotel ballrooms might open some eyes to the value of public spaces. Obviously if every summer weekend is rented out, that's a problem, but even fairly regular rentals won't lead to the end of the world.

(photo of the Bilbao Guggenheim by Flickr user betta design)


Colin said...

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis has a successful program to bring in young people on Thursday (I think?) nights. The trick, surprise surprise, is free martinis.

John B. said...

There is also expense – admission fees in a lot of places seem to be geared more towards bank executives than 20-somethings. I have seen some good evening programs at museums. The natural history museum in DC has (or had?) evening jazz concerts in the basement with one drink included in the admission fee. MoMA has (had?) an evening concert series on summer weekends. Museums could definitely do more, though.

Nick Beaudrot said...

Again, that's not really "bank executive" pricing, it's "we expect you to come once every three or four years" pricing ... which is probably true given current clientele.