Behind the boom in private art museums, notably in France and Germany


Behind the boom in private art museums, notably in France and Germany

Lecture of Georgina Adam, Independent

Private collectors establishing their own art museums is a phenomenon of the 21st century, with an explosion – the word is not too strong – in the number of these currently being created.
Such museums can vary from a modest showcase of the owner’s collection to a large corporation building a splendid edifice and using it as a branding exercise. Some are outdoor sculpture parks, others are housed in shopping malls. 
But private museums also raise many complex questions about the relationship between private and public institutions, and how they are funded. What are the motivations of the collectors, why do they prefer to have their own museum rather than supporting a public space? How do tax incentives impact on these decisions? What is the sustainability of museums, longer term, particularly when the founder passes?

These questions will be explored in Georgina Adam’s lecture, based on her book The Rise and Rise of the Private Art Museum (2021, Lund Humphries and Sotheby’s Institute of Art). She will particularly focus on French and German private museums, notably the newly opened Bourse du Commerce in Paris and the shifting situation in Germany, where a few public-private partnerships have run into difficulties.

This lecture takes place within the framework of the Study Course Das Privatmuseum im 21. Jahrhundert.


Georgina Adam has spent many decades writing about the art market and the arts in general. She is editor-at-large for The Art Newspaper and a contributor to the Financial Times. She initially studied Islamic Art at the Ecole du Louvre and also lived for five years in Japan. She has written two books about the art market – Big Bucks (Lund Humphries, 2014) and Dark Side (Lund Humphries, 2018). Her third book, The Rise and Rise of Private Museums (Lund Humphries and Sotheby’s Institute of Art 2021), was published in September 2021. She is membership chair of Cromwell Place in London, and a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and The International Art Market Studies Association (TIAMSA).


Person in charge

Dr. Julia Drost

Dr. Julia Drost

Research Director / Head of Research Funding Opportunities
Phone +33 (0)1 42 60 67 97
La photo montre Vera Bornkessel

Vera Bornkessel, M.A.

Research Assistant