EconTalk host Russ Roberts interviewed Michael O’Hare on the somewhat mysterious world of art museums and the way their visitors experience art there.

art museum2.jpg

1. What were the three most interesting things you learned from this episode?

2. Have you had a transcendent experience with art? Was it in a museum? Can you explain why? Do you have a favorite art museum? Why is it special?

3. Why do economists place so much emphasis on “marginal cost pricing,” and what does it mean? Why does marginal cost pricing seem so difficult to employ in the art world? Where and when might it be effective? (Note: O’Hare mentions some examples, like the Uffizi, MoMA, and the Louvre.)

4. At the end of the interview, O’Hare suggests that art policy may be the most important policy facing the U.S. today. Why does he believe this, and to what extent do you agree with him? What policy prescriptions would you suggest for the U.S. art world? Explain. (Bonus: How do U.S. art museums differ from their European counterparts, and how would this influence policy prescriptions?)

5. Is there another sector or industry that could benefit from O’Hare’s advice? What about schools? Hospitals? Businesses? What would you suggest other such institutions should take from this week’s episode?

6. Does this week’s episode make you more or less eager to visit your nearest art museum. Why? Are you more or less eager to visit an art museum after this week’s @EconTalker episode?

7. Some commenters on this episode have suggested art museums act as a cartel keeping art off the market and artificially keeping its price higher than it otherwise would be. Do you agree? Is there an analogy between art museums and De Beers?