Why we don't charge museums to use Vastari
Vastari does not charge non-profit institutions to access our database of privately owned objects, find loans, or search for traveling exhibitions. Our company also doesn't charge commission on the works that we help place, nor do we make a profit from the art we help to install in museums. Why not?
Well, we get asked this question a lot, so we thought we’d clear some things up below, and discuss the reasons why Vastari is a free service for curators and museum staff.
We know the budgetary constraints that every museum faces, no matter their size. We work with a whole range of organisations, from large national collections to smaller, volunteer-run institutions, and we know that exhibitions can be expensive to produce and loans costly to acquire. Time-consuming research, shipping, insurance, and security of objects are some of the largest expenses in an exhibition, but rotating displays and new works are key to visitor figures and reputation, as well as greatly important to continuing scholarship and research. Exhibitions can be a big money spinner, but the sheer cost of producing them is not something that can be underestimated.
The first reason we do not charge non-profit museums to use our platform is that we know the costs that are involved in loans and exhibitions. We also believe that art should be accessible to everyone and to all museums, and we wouldn’t want the cost of using Vastari to prevent curators from using us.
If we charged museums to access our database of objects, then the likelihood of a small, local organisation with a tight budget creating an account and using Vastari is very low. By not charging curators to use the platform we allow museums the chance to locate works, often hidden gems in local collections, and feature them in their shows or obtain them for long term loan.
Shipping a big name work from a national institution at the other end of the country may be too expensive for a museum with a tight budget, but using Vastari to find a similar work located much closer to home, with a collector who is not expecting payment for the loan, enables art to be viewed by all.
Our platform is therefore funded by content owners who wish to promote their material and connect with curators. This can include museums looking to tour their own exhibitions through the Vastari platform, but is mainly made up of collectors, artist estates, and foundations, who are looking to connect with curators and who, ultimately, benefit from the added exposure of being seen in a museum.
These content-owners can often also be working on a tight budget, but in this specific example, when the borrowing institution covers the costs of transporting and insuring the work, provides added research into the piece and also will add value to the work’s exhibition history provenance, then we believe that the platform should be funded by the content-owners.