Recently, I came across a blog post that brought up some really interesting points about museum accessibility to the public. It raised the question of when do people want to consume the arts? It is almost standard for a museum to open its doors to the public during daytime, some closing as early as 4 p.m. With the average middle-class American working a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. shift, it is very clear that most people are unavailable during museums’ opening hours. These “20th century hours” obviously affect the museums attendance rate, which could lead into many financial problems. On that note, I can’t help but consider the fact that many museums cannot afford to stay open 24 hours 7days a week. Limiting its opening hours resolves some of the financial burdens museums encounter, like paying a staff for long hours or just the general upkeep of the museum itself and it’s permanent collections.
Hypothetically speaking, let’s say all the museums in the world got together and decided to open their museum during after hours. How would this change the way we experience the museum? Would it change the museums’ audience and attendance rate? Would it affect the way we view the artwork itself? Or would it not affect the museum at all? My guess is that it certainly would change the way we experience art in general and maybe even the way the museum functions, to some degree. I’m not sure I believe that is a bad thing.
One thing is for certain, if a museum desires to increase its attendance rate, then shifting their available hours away from those traditional “20th century hours” would definitely help their chances.