Superstar Museums and Special Exhibitions

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


Superstar museums are a “must-see” for tourists and have achieved cult status. They attract large and increasing numbers of visitors and have a major impact on the local economy. Superstar museums feature paintings by world-famous painters and prominent architectural design. Their income stems to a significant extent from the revenue of the museum bookshops and restaurants. Most art museums run a special exhibition of some sort. They attract new groups of visitors, focus attention on the museum and on the exhibits, and enable lucrative sponsoring revenue to be gained. The cost of mounting such exhibitions is relatively low. They allow more artistic creativity than is possible with the museums’ own collection.


Most visited art museums Must-see Cult status World famous-painters Blockbuster exhibitions Architecture New visitor groups Attention Media Exhibits Sponsoring Commercialization Total experience Amenities Production cost Creativity 

Relevant Literature

This chapter is based on

  1. Frey BS (2003) Superstar museums: an economic analysis. In: Arts and economics. Analysis and cultural policy, 2nd edn. Springer, Berlin, pp 49–65Google Scholar

The museums’ handling of their collection is discussed in

  1. Cantor JE (1991) The museum’s collection. In: Feldstein M (ed) The economics of art museums. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 17–23Google Scholar

Special exhibitions are the subject of

  1. Belcher M (1991) Exhibitions in museums. Leicester University Press, LeicesterGoogle 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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