At Penn Institute for Urban Research Event, Museum Directors to Discuss Art Museums as Community Anchors

  PHILADELPHIA  — The Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) will host a panel discussion with leaders from the country’s most prominent art museums at 6 p.m. Sept. 13, in the Van Pelt Auditorium of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The event kicks off the two-day Penn IUR Roundtable on Anchor Institutions conference, which convenes leaders of institutions that function both as important physical presences in their cities and as a part of the economic lifeblood of their communities.

“Cultural Anchors: Art Museums and the City” will focus on art museums not only as centers for cultural enrichment, but also as wealth-builders for their local economies. Directors of four of the nation’s most influential art museums will be on hand to discuss their experiences and observations, as well as how their institutions shape and are shaped by the cities around them. Speakers include James Cuno, President and Eloise W. Martin Director, Art Institute of Chicago; Bonnie Pitman, Eugene McDermott Director, Dallas Museum of Art; Timothy Rub, George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer, Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Michael E. Shapiro, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr. Director, High Museum of Art.

Some of the critical issues the panel will address during the discussion are:

·     How do museums balance programs that serve local interests and a wide range of users (such as young students, families, professionals, tourists, etc.) while, in cases such as the traditional art museum, maintaining a reputation as a venue for high art and culture?

·     How do museums remain relevant to their local community and sustain or grow visitor numbers from the local population? Beyond the institutions’ income and expenses, how does a museum measure its economic impact in terms of job growth, tourism, real estate values, etc.?

·     How does the museum go beyond its core mission to provide a physical space for the community?

·     How can new building projects or expansion projects engage the community at a larger scale and help transform urban areas beyond the building site?

The panelists represent a broad array of perspectives within the art museum world. The directors will share their views on the critical role of the art museums to the economies and cultural lives of their cities and neighborhoods, as well as how artists and art museums are connected and contribute to the fabric of urban communities. Eugénie Birch, Co-Director of Penn IUR, will moderate the discussion.

“This event promises to be an insightful and thought-provoking conversation on how art museums as institutions can actively engage with their suroundings, both in terms of design and as living parts of their communities,” said Birch.

Space for this event is filling fast, so those interested should register by Wednesday, September 8 by emailing <> . Additional information on Penn IUR events and programming is available at <> .

Penn Institute for Urban Research

The Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) is a university–wide body that addresses the issues of 21st-century cities locally and globally. Penn IUR believes that place matters in understanding political, social and economic phenomena, and that spatially based approaches are essential to identifying contemporary urban challenges, strategies and solutions and their application to public policy. Penn IUR offers several programs to support urban-focused, cross-disciplinary instruction, research and civic engagement. Our programs focus on building knowledge in three critical areas: innovative urban development strategies; building the sustainable, 21st-century city; and the role of anchor institutions in urban places. <>