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Museum venture – Online store launched

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New York’s Museum of Modern Art is setting up a for-profit Web site to raise funds for its expansion, the Wall Street Journal reported June 7.

The Museum will partner with London’s Tate Gallery to sell everything from coffee cups to furniture over the site. Some items will feature reproductions of famous works in the museum’s collection.

“I worry it could demean the integrity of the museum,” museum president Agnes Gund told the Journal. A museum spokeswoman, however, denied that the plan has generated “controversy inside the museum.”

The museum is also engaged in a capital campaign to cover the costs of its expansion, which have ballooned from $200 million to $800 million due to skyrocketing real estate and construction costs.

The museum’s expansion reflects a national trend: more than 150 U.S. museums have been built or expanded in the last two years. Attendance is booming – museums now draw more annual visitors than major league baseball.

Not all expansions work out as planned, however. Chicago’s

Museum of Contemporary Art moved into a new $55 million building four years ago hoping to attract 300,000 more annual visitors. Only about 180,000 more visitors have come, however.

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