Risking Munch: The art of balancing accessibility and security in museums
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The art of expressionist painter Edvard Munch has been the target of numerous thefts in Norway. This article considers the history of risk management in two victimized museums, and the influence of past challenges on contemporary views regarding the role of security. Empirical research suggest that the institutions studied, by giving priority to accessibility and art mediation, combined with unawareness of risk and lack of funding, have compromised security and inadvertently made the art a suitable target for crime. Demonstrating a reactive rather than a proactive approach to risk management, victimization and public exposure of security oversights have led to gradual policy changes in the museums. While stricter security has deterred thefts, several respondents described the response as over-securitization, with counterproductive effects on staff and visitors. Findings reveal that the responsibility to ensure public access, stimulate art appreciation and safeguard collections represents a conflict of interest between professionals working in museums that continue to challenge the development of preventative measures.
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