LACMA's Kickstarter pitch to bring a replica of Guatemala City's egg-shaped Nuevo Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (NuMu) to L.A. is down to the wire. With two days to go in a month-long campaign, 320 backers have pledged $54,008 out of a $75,000 goal.
Museum crowdfunding does not always succeed. The Autry ran an Indiegogo campaign for its 2014 Route 66 show. It raised only 63 percent of a flexible goal of $66,000. The money was collected, and the show went on. But LACMA is playing without a net. Its Kickstarter campaign is "all or nothing." Should they not raise the full goal, all the pledges are cancelled. I have to think that, rather than leave money on the table, some wealthy museum supporter is prepared to write a last-minute check to put them over the top. It may be necessary.
That raises the question of whether museum crowdfunding makes sense. Why not let billionaires, endowments, and memberships pay for exhibitions? (As they already do, mostly.) Crowdfunding is preferable to admission fees, for crowdfunding is optional while admissions charges deter many potential visitors. But the kind of money raised thus far by crowdfunding is pocket change relative to the revenue from admission fees or the costs of mounting exhibitions. Although it's not usually described that way, museum crowdfunding is a social media strategy, a way of building visitor engagement.
The NuMu replica will be part of "A Universal History of Infamy"(Aug. 20, 2017 to Feb. 19, 2018) and will house (small!) exhibitions of Joaquín Orellano and Regina José Olinda, all part of PST LA/LA.
The Kickstarter deadline is Friday, July 7, at 9:55 PDT.