in Museums, Money, and Politics
Both institutional critique and reference work, documenting the intersection of politics (in the form of political donations) and art museums.
2016 in Museums, Money, and Politics examines the intersection of electoral politics and private-nonprofit art institutions in the United States at a pivotal historical moment. In a massive volume that is both institutional critique and reference work, the artist Andrea Fraser documents the reported political contributions made by trustees of more than 125 art museums, representing every state in the nation, in the 2016 election cycle. With campaigning that featured attacks on vulnerable populations, the vilification of the media and “cultural elites,” and calls to curtail civil rights and liberties, the 2016 election cycle and its aftermath transformed national politics. It was also the most expensive election in American history, with over $6.4 billion raised for presidential and congressional races combined. More than half of this money came from just a few hundred people—many of whom also support cultural institutions and serve on their boards.
2016 is organized like a telephone book. Contribution data is laid out alphabetically by name of donor. With this and other data filling more than 900 pages, the book offers a material representation of scale of the interface between cultural philanthropy and campaign finance in America. It also provides an unparalleled resource for exploring the politics of the museum world. 2016 includes an afterword by Jamie Stevens, the former curator and head of programs at CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, who traces the book's development; an introduction by Andrea Fraser elaborating on the links connecting cultural philanthropy, campaign finance, and plutocracy; a section on each museum represented; and a section including data summaries and additional data. The book presents a powerful argument that supporting the arts must involve more than giving donations to museums; it must also include defending the values, social structures, and political institutions of an open, tolerant, just, and equitable society.
Copublished by Westreich Wagner Publications, the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, and the MIT Press