Are Donations “Cost Free”?

By Yin Cheng Jin.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

It seems that some museums in Australia are struggling to deal with non-western items which they view as ‘exotic’ and ‘new’ from a cultural and artistic perspective. The acquisition of such items is fraught with issues related to their authentication and interpretation. The administrative consciousness of museums, which entails aspects of cultural inclusion and professional capacity, is important in determining whether a museum can deliver on its promise. The institutional reluctance to entertain doubts about administrative practice has a strong political and isolationist element. It seems as if the museums sometimes choose to insulate themselves from public scrutiny. Consequently, institutions are at risk of alienating the public’s faith in their practices and the public records show the institutional weakness in argument when responding to critics. Is there an institutional sense of superiority, in which institutions consider themselves to be the gold standard of art collecting and administrating? Are concerns regarding the conduct and quality of public collections socially justified? Are donations costs free? My paper will argue that the motivation for collecting non-western items should be cultural, and not political or financial, particularly when it comes to managing donations. Furthermore, I propose that museums should benefit from, and treasure comments from the public, including art critics and those in the evaluation profession within a culturally inclusive framework.

Keywords: Interpretation of Donation, Public Collection and Private Collection, Taxation Incentive and Institutional, Interpretation, Market Value and Instituional Asset

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.27-38. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 7.172MB).

Yin Cheng Jin

PhD Candidate, School of English, Media Studies and Art History, The University of Queensland, Richmond, Victoria, Australia

I am a former curator at the Shanghai Museum, and have worked with many collections, exhibitions, galleries and museums in both China and Australia. I have an interest in Museum management and studies, and am conducting research into this area.


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