Philadelphia certainly took part in this high level of cultural building. Since 2001, the Barnes Foundation, National Museum of Jewish American History, National Constitution Center, Please Touch Museum, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and the Liberty Bell Center all opened in their current, high profile locations.
Peter Frumkin, a panel member and faculty director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy
at the University of Pennsylvania, shared a study
by the University of Chicago on this cultural building boom and some of the mistakes that have been seen.
Frumkin compared these cultural construction projects to the Olympic ice luge. Many, he said, set out to build massive, iconic buildings and after just two or three big, initial pushes, there is no stopping the project as it speeds down the course.
“As soon as someone gets up and says ‘what if,’ no one wants to be the person to say no,” Frumkin said.
The study found that cultural construction projects – museums, performing arts centers, and theaters - typically take about nine years, six of which are spent in discussion and planning. The average project takes 19 years to pay off the construction and opening debts, during which time leaders often find planning and programming development was short sited and the motives and actual demand for the project are questioned.