Brandeis Uni­versity

The Recession and US Museums
March 20, 2009

“That was then; this is now.” A blunt expression often used in negotiations when one party wants to make clear to the other that previously reasonable expectations are unlikely to be met because of some adverse and unalterable change in circumstances. It is an expression that the cultural sector’s leadership is likely to hear frequently over the next few years as it seeks to navigate a radically changed economic and political map. The global recession that we have entered will not just knock the froth off things; it will permanently reconfigure the cultural landscape. This may happen more slowly and the events may be less flamboyantly newsworthy than the bankruptcy of Iceland, the collapse of the international banking system or the failure of the American mortgage industry, but the underlying forces at work are just as strong—indeed, they are the same forces.