Turning away from Asia, the report also reveals some broader issues, showing that, worldwide, the founders of these institutions tend to be overwhelmingly men, with only 18% of private art museums founded by women. That number isn’t a massive deviation from the gender imbalance present in collectors at a whole (of which women are only 29%). However, it’s another important reminder of gender imbalances that plague both the art world and the world at large.
Also addressed is the commonly leveled critique that private museums, unbound by the expectations that come with accepting public funds, are relatively difficult to access. While there are some egregious cases of inaccessibility, the report notes that over 85% of private museums hold “regular opening hours,” with a discernible trend away from opening for appointment only. Though “regular opening hours” certainly provides latitude (being regularly open one day a week still isn’t all that accessible), over 70% of those museums were open for more than 200 days per year. That number, while laudable, is maybe more exciting than it sounds once both figures are put together: 70% of 85% means that just barely 60% of the total number of private museums are functioning similarly to public institutions. Nonetheless, attendance numbers indicating that 35% of private museums receive 20,000+ visitors (the runaway attendance leader being the Saatchi Gallery and its 1.5 million annual visitors) are relatively strong given the small staff and limited size of many of these institutions.
Taken altogether, the report paints a bright picture as private museums further cement themselves as must-visit spaces—especially if they can expand into regions like Latin America and the Middle East. Not addressed in the report is the ever-important factor of what it’s like to visit and experience one of these spaces. The flexibility of a single owner can allow for intimate and interestingly curated presentations, and many private museums can be a welcome balance to the throngs of tourists flooding the likes of the MoMA and Tate.