The museum as destination. The role of iconic museums in urban boosterism
AbstractThis article discusses how iconic museums function as instruments of city marketing and corporate branding. The overall question is whether the use of iconic museums in urban boosterism is in opposition to the traditional role of museums as part of the enlightenment project. Two different urban contexts are used to analyze the role of museums in the process of city branding. Los Angeles is seen as an example of an “experiencescape”; here the main question is whether the J. Paul Getty Museum can be seen as an antidote to Hollywood hype or if it adds to it. Paris is seen as a “brandscape”, using iconic museum architecture to enhance its global image and generate economic growth; this trend can be traced in the presidential “Grand Projets” initiated since the 1970s and in the more recent corporate branding exercise Fondation Louis Vuitton. The article concludes that even if the enlightenment theme has been toned down, there is still a more traditional “museum mission” behind the iconic façades.
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