Is asymmetry of information good for the touring exhibitions market?

Touring exhibitions have become increasingly important in the last decade: from a handful of major institutions partnering up, touring exhibitions have become a major trend in the museum industry.

Producers and museums with large portfolios are beginning to dominate their own section of expo halls at all major international conferences. And, amongst the familiar faces, it’s always nice and refreshing to see new members joining the market.

There are now many events organised by institutions such as Informal Learning Experiences, Traveling Exhibitions Meeting or International Committee for Exhibitions and Exchange. In fact the growth of the industry has created waiting lists for participation.

And yet just glancing at the list it is enough to be able to say that most participants are exhibition producers pitching their products, and that there is a lack of institutions sharing their needs.

Although it is good for institutions to know what touring exhibitions are on the market, available for hire, institutional representatives at these sort of conferences do not always have decision-making power. Yet, is this lack of authority holding institutions back from booking suitable exhibitions to complete an impressive programme?

There is a large number of new players in the field however many are unaware of the criteria that involve finding suitable hosting venues for their exhibitions such as timing, budget, or the institutions personal selection criteria.

This information is generally only exclusively accessible to past partners. The inaccessibility to these details often makes this collaborations hard to set up: exhibitions are often proposed to hosting venues with speculative applications at the wrong time, and institutions are flooded with sometimes even up to 12 irrelevant proposals a week.

In a market with a significant number of institutions and producers operating on a turn key model, enhancing the pool of possible partners to collaborate with can provide a wider choice for hosts, guaranteeing a more diverse programming.

It is certainly clear that hosting venues do not like to be sold to, particularly if the product is as complex as an exhibition. Similarly, exhibition managers and producers do not like to waste their time promoting their shows when a collaboration is not in sight.

Is it not safe to assume, that more transparency from both sides -exhibition owner and exhibition hirer- would lead to better communication and higher rates of collaboration?