Arts & Hospitality: a Positive Association - Part 2

EHL Students - Bachelor | 12 Sep, 2016

Let's continue our exploration of the encounter of arts and hospitality. How can museums become more attractive places to spend time, and how does this matter relates to hospitality?

We can all understand the argument that art should not be commercialized and therefore, hospitality should not invade art display spaces, like museums. However, to enhance the attractiveness of museums, in particular to young generations, the needs of museums attendees are being reconsidered and their experience reimagined.

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Museums’ major challenge is to become more customer-oriented by increasing their packaging of services and developing into real “social and cultural hubs”. Hence, the statement by Mark Walhimer, managing partner of Leading Culture Destinations: “Museums need to learn they are in the hospitality business, not in the education business.”

Without necessarily fully agreeing with such an extremist assertion, museum directors are increasingly ready to innovate, so as to provide memorable experiences to visitors, as hospitality does every day. In their endeavor to make visitors cruise through a well-designed and enjoyable environment, museums add beautifully designed resting places and good restaurants to their facilities.

For example, Tate Modern Gallery in London has a section on their website “Eat, drink and shop at Tate Modern”. Some museums like the Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris have hired Michelin starred-chefs for their restaurants, where theme dinners are inspired by a product, a country, a subject or a color. 

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The Benesse Art Site Naoshima, this beautiful Japanese island hosting art pieces in the middle of nature, with lodgings in the surroundings, deserves a particular mention. It is both a museum and a hotel, with guest rooms and space for contemporary art display. According to the owners, the place “offers guests opportunities to get close to great art and spend a uniquely rewarding time in dialogue with the works and with themselves.”

Museums certainly seem to be evolving into our future social and cultural hubs: places where people learn, socialize, eat great food, have drinks, while commenting on a piece of art. Hospitality services have therefore a role to play in that transformation.

There is obviously a positive relationship between arts and hospitality. Both museums and hospitality places seek to offer an unforgettable experience to visitors or guests, from different – though not contradictory – angles. Both activities can flow together and enrich each other on many grounds, necessarily customer-driven.

Author: Justine Barsalou - EHL Bachelor Student

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