From New York to London, Museum Merch Generates Big Profits (and Bigger Questions)
Art Business

From New York to London, Museum Merch Generates Big Profits (and Bigger Questions)

Facing declines in government support of the arts, more and more museums have been beefing up their shops with branded merchandise. While this is nothing new—works of art have been recreated on magnets, prints and postcards for years—a more recent trend can be observed in the sale of more daring, even artist-designed, products for the consumption of the museum-going public. From tea sets to tote bags, dinner trays to room spray, museums such as London’s Tate Modern and New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) have turned to a number of products in order to supplement funding and ticket sales. Tate Enterprises, which manages the museum merch shop, café and publishing arm, brought in £2.8 million (about $3.7 million U.S.) in profit in 2016-17. In the shop, hit products include a Grayson Perry scarf designed for the Tate Modern itself, a Damien Hirst teacup and saucer, and even a Guerrilla Girls air freshener. At MoMA, a collaboration with Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo has led to increased profits through the sale of T-shirts, tote bags, bandanas and socks featuring works by such artists as Jenny Holzer, Mark Dion and Jackson Pollock. There’s even an on-brand (gaudy) collaboration between Jeff Koons […]

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