art · luxury

Art Collector Conundrum: Accessibility

As I learn more about the art world, I see, not only the beauty and complexity of it, but the problems surrounding it.

Here’s the thing: every industry is plagued with its own problems. As a result, the professionals within each industry are tasked with serving current needs as well as creatively attempting to solve existing and potential problems. This presents a bit of a conundrum for both the problem solvers (who are trying their best but may be limited in what they can do) and those awaiting a solution (that feel excluded and frustrated).

There are several big issues within the art industry, which I’ll attempt to explore over several posts. I’m no art expert, but I love the thought of toying around with solutions to existing issues, because, at the heart of it, I’m a problem solver.View of Children placing poppies on the grave stone of the Unknown soldier

(Courtesy of the War Museum in Ottawa)

One of the biggest issues I see within the art world is the issue of accessibility. Like many subjects and areas associated with the elite/wealthy/exclusive groups, there is no definitive path for entry. Those that want to make sense of this world are overwhelmed by the options but really don’t have any clear directions on how they can make art and the art world a part of their lives.

That’s both great and confusing.

The upside to lacking a defined path of “entry” is that the barriers aren’t clearly defined, either. If those desiring entry want to find a way “in”, they can probably ease in through many different paths and still eventually “arrive” at their desired destination. Let’s be clear: there are ALWAYS barriers in every realm. But these can often be navigated in unconventional ways so long as the person desiring entry is willing to explore the options available and be creative.

The confusing part is figuring out where to start. Unlike college or the corporate world, there is no simple, straightforward way to enter the world of art collecting/patronage.

This undefined path presents an amazing opportunity for art galleries, auction houses and museums. For the huge names in the art world, there may not be an urgent need to reach out to novice or aspiring collectors: after all, these entities aren’t hurting for sales! But for the entities that are interested in undertaking the challenge of opening the art world to a new kind of patron and clientele, there are several ways to accomplish this. The Guggenheim Museum is leading the way with their Young Collectors Council, a subgroup of museum membership that allows millenials and other inexperienced collectors under the age of 40 to have a more active role in museum acquisitions.


Young visitor touring Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1969

Other museums, art galleries and auction houses can modify the structure pioneered by the Guggenheim and create their own Collectors Councils to help nurture and develop interest in the art world among those that are inexperienced. Setting aside two or three annual events to be organized by councils and offering mentoring opportunities from senior individuals involved in the organization would be great for collectors that are trying to find their way on the art scene.

Do you all think there are some other ways to increase accessibility in the art world? Let me know in the comments below!

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