No art collection is complete if you do not open it to an audience.
But how can you, as a collector, fulfil your responsibility for art and give it to a public without bending?
There are now more possibilities than you might think...
ART COLLECTION CHECKLIST
- Before you begin to open your art collection to an audience, you should define its identity.
- Especially for smaller collections, virtual platforms such as Instagram or Google Cultural Institute are often sufficient to make them known to an audience.
- It is often worthwhile to start with small offerings and try to see if you like to present your art collection.
- The most important principles for successful public relations are credibility, authenticity and transparency.
For most collectors the exhibition of art is unending
Collecting art means always showing art. No collector, whose work means more than a share package, wants to see it only on the attic or in a Swiss depot.
For most collectors the exhibition of art is unending. They want to share the art that fascinates them, want other people to see something similar in themselves.
If we look back at the beginnings of modernity, it becomes clear that without collectors such as Paul Durand-Ruel, Victor Chocquet, or Julius Meier-Graefe, and their tireless commitment to new art and presenting their discoveries to the general public.
Art collectors are always responsible for the art one possesses, one owns, and to allow the art collection to enter the public space in order to cultivate it.
A QUESTION OF ALTRUISM?
This is not a question of pure altruism. Every time an art collection is made available to the public there is often a direct relationship to the success of the collection.
Even if it sounds old-fashioned: a collection lives by its good reputation.
Each gallery, which is committed to its artists and wants to give them a long-term career, will first sell their works to those collectors who also work long-term for the work they acquire.
This fact often plays a greater role in direct sales and on the secondary market than one thinks.
Which form this public attention takes is based on the individual and often depends on the size and orientation of the collection. A collector should consider the extent to which the collection is to be made public.
You have to be present. You need the right rooms. You have to ask yourself how the archive looks, what rhythm and concept you have for the hanging of the works. You need good texts and good picture material.
BETTER TO START SMALL
If you decide to go public with your collection, it is often a good idea to start on a small scale.
Virtual platforms such as Instagram or the Google Cultural Institute are reaching a surprisingly large audience today, enabling you to access information about art styles, and artists, you are interested in.
This type of communication is sufficient for many collections.
Other possibilities of public relations, which many art collectors utilize, are loans to museums and collaborations with institutions or other collections.
This can also have the positive side effect for long-term preservation or increase of the exhibited works.
Even those who would like to venture out with their own exhibitions are well advised to do so in the smaller style.
Silke Neumann, for example, recommends that the first exhibitions be submitted with invitations, which are directed at a selected circle.
"It is sensible," says Neumann, "to show ones collection to friends, to see how the reactions are, and to figure out whether it is fun to present them."
PRIVACY OR MUSEUM
For many collectors, the desire to make their collection accessible to a broader audience is usually the end result of these explorations.
Anyone who decides to pursue this wish should be aware that this entails not only a considerable amount of work, but also a great deal of time and money.
First of all, you have to look for suitable premises. It does not have to be a private museum.
One can ask oneself whether one wants to leave the audience in a series of private rooms or whether the exhibition rooms are combined with the living spaces, but still decoupled from them.
This decision depends not only on the possibility of the environment, but also on the character of the collection and the respective collector.
Private museums have become an essential part of our cultural landscape in recent decades. The responsibility that accompanies this must also be reflected in the building.
It is always beneficial to present a collection in architecturally valuable space
Successful educational and art education initiatives are often closely linked to the unusual places where they take place.
It is always beneficial to present a collection in architecturally valuable spaces.
These not only create the appropriate framework for the exhibited works and underscore the character of the collection, but also attract great interest.
Cornelia Gockel, curator for media art and responsible for press and communication at the Goetz Collection in Munich, recalls how essential the architecture holding the collection was to their success.
Ingvild Goetz commissioned Swiss architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron to build their private museum even before they gained worldwide recognition and received the Pritzker Prize.
"We recently celebrated our 20th anniversary," says Gockel.
"At the beginning it was about the Goetz collection that hardly anyone knew about. In the end, she was attracted by Herzog & de Meuron's building. Many architecture magazines reported on the house. Many architects came to watch the collection."
THE SEARCH FOR ONE'S IDENTITY
The possibility to choose the appropriate rooms for the collection is always closely linked to a process many would like to skip over, but is nevertheless essential:
you have to be clear about the identity of your collection and to be conscious of what you want to convey.
After all, the profile of the collection ultimately determines who is to be addressed and what tasks it can take. This also has to do with the collector himself.
The personality of the collector says a lot about how the communication should be. The most important thing is authenticity.
Are you expressive or quiet? Do you want to mediate or do you just want to present the greatest works?
It is important to be aware of the character of the art collection as a collector and the meaning of the collection to the outside.
Successful collection identity almost always finds results in the success of public relations work.
Julia Rust, the director of me Collectors Room, says that the reflection is essential in the work of the foundation.
"With us, the desire to reach a broad public is very strong," says Rust, "to reach those who are otherwise not addressed by art exhibitions"
The focus on the art collection is not always from the classical art department, but in children and adolescents.
A number of guided tours are aimed at this young target group. Not to target a particular art clientele, but rather arouse a fundamental enthusiasm for art.
PUBLIC RELATIONS DIVERSITY
Public relations is a multifaceted and challenging task, which normally requires the setting up of one or more dedicated bodies.
But good PR is diverse. It consists of a carefully conceived mixture of contact management, press work, online communication and event management.
It has to reach its target audience on a point-by-point basis, but in various ways, thanks to a well thought-out marketing.
In order for PR to work, they must seek a dialogue with their target group. Networks of friends, fans and interested press representatives have to be established over a long time.
Just make sure at the beginning you should not expect too much.
Today, as many people have a growing feeling of media saturation, it is more important than ever to make good work and good communication in order to reach the public.
The focus of public relations is differently distributed in each art collection.
For some collectors, it is particularly important to organize dinner parties, opening ceremonies or receptions at art fairs in order to build a relationship with a particular audience.
Collections, such the me Collectors Room, are very active in the social media sector. "We have set up a completely new job," says Julia Rust.
"The collected information needs to be posted to Facebook and Instagram, everything must be done with sense and reason. We also developed the interactive "me Berlin-App", which provides content, links and interviews especially for our house. "
For other collections, such as the Goetz Collection, the classic press work includes the creation of catalogs.
"In compiling the catalogs, we work very closely with the artists," says Cornelia Gockel, "the catalogs are so well researched and scientifically thoroughly elaborated that they can also be used as a basis for working for which one can use academic work.”
DO I NEED AN AGENCY?
Whenever the complexity of PR is posed for many collectors the question of whether one cannot transfer all these communication duties to PR agencies.
The offer of these agencies is broad and many of them, including Bureau N, do excellent work.
Especially in the case of more complex challenges, agencies can be of great help, including agencies that are not only specialized in PR.
Cornelia Gockel, for example, reports that such a challenge occurred when Ingvild Goetz offered her private museum and a selection of 375 works from her media art collection to the Free State of Bavaria in early 2014.
"That has changed a lot, as far as the public is concerned. Before that we were a private collection, today we are much more committed to addressing a larger target group.
We have re-launched and reworked our appearance. We had to think about where we stand and where we want to go.
Everyone has a different way of communicating, and one should also be fair
We wanted to preserve the charm and privacy of the collection while still opening the door to the outside.
To this end, we have used the help of a design agency that has helped us to develop a concept that combines these elements. "
But despite their competence, agencies are not always the answer. It is not possible to outsource all its public relations work.
Public relations can only be done in close collaboration with the collector or their team. Everyone has a different way of communicating, and one should also be fair.
An agency can be supportive and very helpful, can give many tips from the outside, and provide a lot of advice, to build communication from a different perspective.
But the control of communication is more efficient if a person within the house cares about the work and content of the art collection.
CREDIBILITY, AUTHENTICITY AND TRANSPARENCY
Whether you are looking for a small public arena with your art collection or showing them on different virtual platforms.
Whether you open some of your private rooms for occasional exhibitions.
Or whether you decide to give your art collection a museum-like home, nothing is as important as one's own relationship with their audience.
No strategy is valid forever. No plan is just as fulfilling as one would like it to be.
Credibility, authenticity and transparency are, in the long run, the only way forward to a broader public.
These qualities are not automatically gained, but are the result of a carefully cultivated collections culture and a communication strategy that adapts to new developments.
This may sound difficult at first, but in the long term, each collector will find the public he wants with an approach, which fits them, their art collection and their art.
Trust takes its time.