In thinking about how Kurin’s “Brokering Culture” outlines the multiple meanings of “culture,” I was struck by how “market” also has a range of definitions. When I hear this word in phrases like “market forces,” I tend to envision something abstract, the general operation of supply and demand. But market can also imply a physical space where people gather to purchase and sell goods. In this sense, I see markets as social and relationship-driven, a site for connections between individuals.
I’m working to reconcile this idea, the balance between abstract forces and in-person connections in the market, with Janes’s point: “Some museum work is clearly subject to market forces, such as restaurants, shops and product development, while other activities such as collections care, scientific research and community engagement are not. The latter bear no relation to the market economy and, in fact, require a safe distance from marketplace and corporatist fallout.”
If all of these activities are social or tied to at least one definition of cultural, can they stand outside of the market? It seems strange to me to delineate some activities of the museum as market-driven and others as not; does that lead to an identity-crisis for the institution? Does returning to Kurin’s point that there are multiple definitions of culture, some money-driven and others not, clarify museums’ role in the marketplace or just add to the confusion?