Apr 25, 2018

Do art museums have any impact on where Amazon will build its second headquarters?

One of the explicit criteria that Amazon is using to judge cities during its closely watched search for a new headquarters (referred to by the company as “HQ2”) is general quality of life. To that end, art critic Sebastian Smee has argued in the Washington Post that art museums boost civic pride and and make cities more desirable—perhaps why most of 20 finalists for HQ2, from Seattle to Philadelphia, boast a some form of major cultural attraction. The notable outliers are Montgomery County and Northern Virginia, though both are close to the culturally opulent Washington, D.C. While he maintains that the argument for museums shouldn’t be based around Amazon or even economics, Smee insisted there’s a larger lesson here. “If you’re a city that wants to attract smart people hoping to work for successful businesses and big corporations, it seems pretty clear: Invest in your art museums,” he wrote. That said, there are other reasons—from transportation systems to economically questionable tax breaks—that will justify why one region will emerge victorious from the Amazon hunger games. And some locales with blossoming art scenes did not make the final shortlist, notably Detroit and Minneapolis.