Museums Pained Over Both Too Few Visitors and Excess Attendance

We all know that museums are having a hard time. Other than the bits and pieces of who is laying off and who is cutting back, the general concept is hardly news. But here we present you with two sides. First comes what we’re used to hearing, with the AP reporting on all of the various hardships the museum industry is facing, from the Art Institute here in Chicago raising their entry fees and then fighting with an alderman over it, to the Las Vegas Art Museum going completely under. It’s a great piece that takes a look at the direct effect the failure of the economy has had. But elsewhere, over at the Washington Post there’s an interesting piece about how well museums in Washington D.C., particularly those in the Smithsonian chain, are doing, attendance-wise. It appears that the big Obama bump back in January is still humming right along, with record numbers of people coming through the doors every day. Unfortunately, while this would usually be great news, all those people are neither spending any money in the cafes or the gift shops, nor staying for any length of time in DC, in its hotels, restaurants, car rental services, etc. So it’s a case of tourism being both up and down at the same time, but in the worst possible way. Bizarre times, these. And makes us think maybe we should reconsider that great news we reported on last week about the Seattle Art Museum‘s attendance numbers being way up.