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Museums are realising that print design plays a part in attracting visitors

Attempts by Matthew Collings and Madonna to repackage art as the latest trendy celeb’s plaything at last month’s Turner Prize may have been utterly reprehensible to us art lovers who were doing galleries years before they became the new pop, but there’s no denying that Collings, Madge and Channel 4 are on to something.

Art is big, and the figures prove it. As the Policy Studies Institute’s recent publication The UK Cultural Sector: Profile and Policy Issues, edited by S Selwood, suggests (hard figures being very difficult to come by), more galleries are opening – one estimate suggests at the rate of one a week in the past eight years – attendances and consumer spending are rising, and looking at art comes a close second to cinema-going in the popularity stakes.

Coupled with increased income from the National Lottery and both central and local government, it all bodes very well for the design and advertising industries. For while real figures on design and ad spend in the museums sector don’t exist, Domus figures for the 97/98 financial year revealed a total expenditure of £448m, and that’s by just 60 per cent of all registered museums (the figure responding to the 1999 questionnaire).

Whether it’s for touring shows from the British Film Institute, new museums making the most of Lottery funding or massive exhibitions by the likes of the Tate, there’s a wealth of print design work for designers. Over these pages we look at three such new and very different projects.

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