Handbook of Cultural Economics, Third Edition
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Handbook of Cultural Economics, Third Edition

Edited by Ruth Towse and Trilce Navarrete Hernández

Cultural economics has become well established as a subject of interest for students and teachers of courses ranging from economics to arts administration as well as for policy-makers and practitioners in the creative industries. Digitisation has had a tremendous impact on many areas of the creative economy and the third edition of this popular book fully reflects it.
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Chapter 39: Museums

Víctor Fernández-Blanco and Juan Prieto-Rodríguez


Following an economic perspective, we analyse museums as economic agents. We assume that museums’ decisions can be analysed as guided by economic behaviour, that is, the maximization of an objective function under a set of economic and institutional restrictions. From this perspective, we allow room for various objectives, including the maximization of attendance and the maximization of profits. As economic agents, on the one hand, we can study how, by combining different inputs, museums produce different outputs, some not related to their collections. On the other hand, museums face different demand functions (one for each of the outputs). In this chapter, we outline the main characteristics of both the demand and supply sides of museums and, then, we study the logic of their incentives, which may or may not be defined by the market. Finally, museums may generate important externalities and, hence, these externalities can be considered as another social output.

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