Should sponsors profit? – Museums debate donor influence

The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art will replace a controversial Coco Chanel show with a Jacqueline Kennedy fashion exhibit, the Wall Street Journal reported June 20.

The Kennedy show marks a shift in the museum’s dealings with corporate sponsors. The Met drew flak for its recent “Rock Style” show, which was considerably influenced by $1 million donor Tommy Hilfiger.

The Chanel show also came under fire from museum officials who feared that the company’s sponsorship would allow Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld too much control over the exhibit.

The Met is seeking corporate sponsorship for the Kennedy show, but it is unlikely that the exhibit will carry strong commercial overtones.

The controversy over the Chanel show is part of a larger debate in the museum world. Critics attacked the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for an upcoming Armani exhibit that received several million dollars from the company. Similar questions were asked about the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s “Sensation” show, which was in part funded by parties who had commercial interest in the show.

Clothes and accessories worn by the former first lady will go on display at the Met in spring 2001.

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