• Bruno S. FreyEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Economics book series (BRIEFSECONOMICS)


Major determinants of museum visits are entry fee, visitors’ income and education, the quality of the collection, the attractiveness of the building, and the levels of amenities and marketing activities. Museums produce social non-use values: options, existence, bequest, prestige, and education, for which they are not compensated in monetary terms. Impact studies tend to focus on purely material effects of museums which is most questionable. The supply of museums is characterized by high fixed costs for buildings, collections, and staff. Blockbuster exhibitions, differentiating entry fees, and enlarging commercial activities can also raise revenue. The behaviour of purely public and private museums differs substantially. In both organizations, the directors are reluctant to sell any part of their holdings, even when under financial stress.


Entrance fee Pricing options Income Education Collection Storage Monetization Buildings Architecture Amenities Marketing Blockbuster exhibitions Commercial activities Public museums Private museums Social demand Revealed behaviour Compensating variation Popular referenda Impact studies Donations Museum directors Institutional conditions 

Related Literature

This chapter uses parts of the following joint paper

  1. Frey BS, Meier S (2006) The economics of museums. In: Ginsburgh VA, Throsby D (eds) Handbook of the economics of art and culture. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 1018–1047Google Scholar

A fundamental contribution to the topic is

  1. Hansmann HB (1981) Nonprofit enterprise in the performing arts. Bell J Econ 12(2):341–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Excellent discussions of art museums, especially for the case of the United States, are provided by

  1. DiMaggio PJ (ed) (1986) Nonprofit enterprise in the arts. Studies in mission and constraint, Oxford University Press, New York, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Feldstein M (ed) (1991) The economics of art museums. Chicago University Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar

More general aspects are the subject of

  1. Weisbrod BA (ed) (1998) To profit or not to profit: the commercial transformation of the nonprofit sector. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CREW - Center for Research in Economics and Well-BeingUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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