Museums and advertising: the case of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

DC Comics superhero Blue Beetle promotion comes to steps of Philadelphia Museum of Art on Tuesday, August 15, 2023.

Is it acceptable to turn a museum into a shop window for advertising?
Recently a case made much discussion in the United States: a maxi-poster dedicated to the DC Comics superhero, Blue Beetle, found a home for a week on the famous steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Yes, the same steps immortalised by Rocky Balboa in the cult 1976 film. Is it right for such an important cultural symbol to become a space for advertising?

Museums and advertising: the case of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

This initiative has generated a flood of opinions of various kinds.
Some consider the move in bad taste, unsuitable for a place of such prestige and cultural significance. Others, however, see the billboard as a dynamic element that brings vitality and interest to the museum. CBS News highlighted some of these opinions in an article, showing how polarising the issue is.

The poster, placed on 15 August 2023, was intended to promote the launch of the new Blue Beetle film in US cinemas. Made of temporary vinyl stickers, the campaign was removed after a few days. Nevertheless, the choice provoked strong negative reactions from the public.

Who is responsible?

The Philadelphia Museum of Art made it clear that the decision on the use of the staircase is the prerogative of the city of Philadelphia, which manages both the staircase and the museum.
In an official memo, the museum suggested a middle way: using this space for promotional purposes, but also giving opportunities to emerging Philadelphia artists to exhibit their work.

Official documents reveal that the initiative was authorised by the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation department, responsible for both the exterior and interior maintenance of the museum.
In return, $28,000 was paid for the week of posting. It is still unclear how these funds will be used, but it seems that the staircase could become a sort of ‘stage’ for emerging artists in the future.

The debate remains heated.
In a world where public spaces and cultural symbols are increasingly exploited for commercial purposes, the issue raises important ethical and cultural questions. And you, what do you think? Is it right for a place like the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s staircase to be used for advertising purposes or should it remain an undisturbed cultural icon?

Condividi su

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *