For instance, until August 31 visitors of St. Petersburg’s London Mall shopping center atrium will have an opportunity to see 20 reproductions of paintings by English masters and French impressionists from the collection of the State Hermitage Museum. The works of Thomas Lawrence, George Hayter, Benjamin West, Christina Robertson, Thomas Gainsborough, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne and other famous artists are presented in the form of 10 double-sided lifting bars of 3 by 2 meters and 2 by 2 meters size. Lilia Dorozhkina, brand manager of the London Mall, did not answer the question of MarketMedia about the project budget, but said that she hoped that if the comments of visitors were positive, the project would add the essential atmosphere to the mall and the Hermitage was ready to continue the cooperation, the mall “would not exclude the possibility to do a joint project with the museum, even with the installations, next year".

“The Hermitage at the London Mall is not the only example of the collaboration of a shopping center and one of the most famous museums in the world. For instance, in November 2018, the Gallery shopping center put on display an installation copying the geometry of the eastern wing of the General Staff Building with a slide show of famous art collections. Models of paintings with carved figures were presented in 3D format, and everybody could enter the space and explore the masterpieces from the inside. Installation took an area of 500 square meters.

The world history of the collaboration of museums and shopping malls is not that long. In 2013, the Reyksmuseum video, which was filmed in one of the shopping centers in Amsterdam as a staging of the museum’s most famous canvas of the Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, gained wide popularity in social networks. This way the museum informed the city residents about its opening after a 10-year restoration.

However, according to Veronika Kandaurova, director of PR and Communications at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA), that cooperated with the Vremena Goda shopping center, there have been decades of collaboration of museums and trade in Europe, America and Asia. Kandaurova cited the examples of the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art, which made a project in the five-story Shisiedo store, the London V&A Museum, which, together with Harrods department store, created various events from short interactive exhibitions to a series of large-scale parties.

“I think that America can compete with Asia in the number of such collaborations. One of my favorite examples is the multi-level exhibition at MET, together with Saks Fifth Avenue”, Veronika Kandaurova said. Konstantin Budagyan, senior analyst of Market Research Department at Colliers International, said in his opinion the K11 Chinese chain of malls in Shanghai, Wuhan, Guangzhou and Hong Kong that realizes the museum retail concept was the most striking example of the collaboration of shopping centers and museums. “Many people know about the great history of K11 in Shanghai,” Kandaurova said.

“This is a 61-story skyscraper, built in 2002 by architects of Bregman & Hamann Architects. This is the first art mall of its kind, organically combining retail, art and nature".

The K11 brand itself positions itself as an art platform where culture, entertainment, shopping and life revolve around art. The company was founded by a Hong Kong native Adrian Cheng. Cheng got education in the United States and, after returning to China in 2008, founded the K11 brand, focusing on values such as people, art and nature. The building in Shanghai that combines a shopping center also includes chi K11 museum, which occupies an area of 3,000 square meters in the mall. It regularly hosts art exhibitions, lectures and workshops. The exhibition in 2014 created a buzz, when 40 Monet paintings from the private Parisian Marmottan-Monet museum, as well as 12 works by other impressionists, were immediately shown in K11 Art Mal. According to media reports, the exhibition, held in K11 for three months, was visited by 350 thousand people that increased the sales by 30% during this period.

Russian shopping malls followed the example of the world trade centers. Moreover, some of them even repeat the ideas of their foreign colleagues. Thus, in March 2018, the Moscow Metropolis shopping center made the video “Breakfast on the Grass” inspired by the Rijksmuseum video. It was the announcement of the eponymous multimedia exhibition of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, which was held on the site of the shopping and entertainment complex. The exhibition itself allowed visitors to “revive” the canvases of six artists with the help of a multimedia installation and the “Artifact” virtual reality application.

In Moscow there were collaborations of MMOMA and the VAC fund within the framework of the General Rehearsal project with the Tsvetnoy department store and the Vremena Goda shopping mall.

“In the latter case, we held a great educational course related to fashion and travel at the Vremena Goda. The interaction format included lectures and a public talk”, Kandaurova said.

Competition for Visitors
The reasons for the appearance of such collaborations are clear for experts. Today, museums and shopping centers face the same cultural challenge, says Arnold van de Water, general manager "Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience" for the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), whose collaborations with shopping centers have received prestigious international awards. “While buyers are moving from buyer needs to buyer experience mall owners are looking for new ways and opportunities to stay relevant to them within the framework of this experience. At the same time, museums care how to become more accessible to a wide audience on a global scale”, Arnold van de Water said.

“This situation creates an excellent opportunity for closer interaction between retail real estate developers and museums in the coming years in order to create a memorable, interactive and unique shopping experience. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is an example of how you can create unique experimental content with retail property partners using the pop-up Museum Editions (Museum Editions (100 square meters), Discover Vincent van Gogh (“Discover Vincent van Gogh "(400-200 square meters) and Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience (1500 square meters).

“For many, it might seem that cooperation between museums and malls is a kind of bad manners, but museums, especially in Russia, today compete not with each other, but with shopping centers,” Kandaurova said.

“It’s easier for people to spend a day off with their children in such a multifunctional space with entertainment than to go to a museum. This is especially noticeable in regions where leisure formats are, in principle, not as diverse as in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other large cities. Therefore, the museums making their way beyond their borders into shopping centers is especially important for Russia,” Kandaurova said. Russia is still at the beginning of the collaboration of museums and shopping centers, she said.

The Way It Works
Usually collaborations of malls and museums begin with the fact that representatives of shopping centers come up to the museum management with their idea.

“The project with the Hermitage looked like this,” said Alexander Seregin, marketing director of the Gallery shopping centers (St.Petersburg) and Metropolis (Moscow), who was in charge of the organization of collaboration of malls not only with museums, but also with Soyuzmultfilm (Russian animation studio based in Moscow), Lenfilm (film studio located in St. Petersburg), the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, and many others.

“We wrote a letter to the Hermitage about the idea of making a joint project with the Gallery which is the most visited shopping center. We showed where the exhibition can start from, where it can lead to, the route for visitors, suggested the idea of open "rooms". We also asked if there was anything to fill this space with. The Hermitage representatives were absolutely positive about that. The museum’s staff was interested in telling about the General Staff Building, especially that far not everyone knows that it also has expositions and exhibitions. Therefore to attract attention, they decided to show the various areas of art presented there, reflected in a partial imitation of its halls”.

About the same thing happened with the organization of the Hermitage at the London Mall project. Lilia Dorozhkina said they came up with the idea of collaboration to the Hermitage authorities, who expressed their mutual interest. At that time, the museum was preparing the exhibition “The Morozov Brothers. Great Russian Collectors” with 109 artworks from the Hermitage collections and 31 paintings from the Pushkin Museum on display. Some of the paintings were presented in the form of reproductions in the shopping center. When opening a project at the London Mall Yekaterina Sirakanyan, head of the Hermitage’s Development Service, said, today the worldwide trend for museums was about going beyond their walls to focus on an increasingly wider audience.

After the parties agree, artists and decorators start their work. It can take up to six months to prepare. Such collaborations last no more than a month. Representatives of shopping centers refused to elaborate on the cost of such projects that includes the cost of printing reproductions, making decoration and installation, etc.

According to expert estimates, the cost may range around 500 thousand rubles. At the same time, it is hard to talk about the immediate financial returns from the project.

“Of course, in the short term there is no clear financial result, and traffic growth can be attributed to the error regarding our figures,” Alexander Seregin said.

“However, when the visitors understand that there is still additional cultural and entertainment value in the shopping center, they get more interested to come here also in order to do shopping”. One of the tasks of such collaborations is to make a shopping center not only a place associated with the word “to buy”, but also with a cultural center and a leisure center. This increases the loyalty of visitors to the place and the desire to come there”, he said. “This is work for the future,” Lilia Dorozhkina said.

“In order for cooperation to achieve the strategic goals of both parties, the owners of shopping centers should consider the diversification of their space as an investment, and not as income”, Arnold van de Water said.

“Connection to the arts and entertainment sector is a hallmark for shopping centers that allows them to develop their own brands. Finding a common language between the museum and the shopping center is the most difficult aspect of the partnership,” Arnold van de Water said. “The owners of the shopping centers mainly focus on commerce, while the museums operate in a non-profit cultural environment. However, art and the cultural sector are important in maintaining attention to malls, as museums create added value for the shopping experience and generate return visits. Interactive, immersive and multi-sensory technology, as well as compelling narrative, take the traditional store experience to a level that cannot be formed online”, he said.

Collaboration Prospects
Liliya Dorozhkina believes that cooperation between shopping centers and museums has prospects and such a format will be interesting to all parties, including consumers, for a long time to come. The risk that the novelty of the format, when it is mastered by many, can quickly come to an end, is considered minimal. Dorozhkina is sure that art cannot get boring.

At the same time, Alexander Seregin believes that such risk exists: inevitably, the projects will begin to repeat themselves, because, for example, in St. Petersburg there are practically no such large partners as the Hermitage, and besides, museums must also understand that they need it. Seregin said such an understanding, and most importantly the desire to do something is unfortunately not always there.

Konstantin Budagyan is also cautious in assessing the prospects of collaborations. His caution is based on the fact that, despite the attractiveness of joint cultural events of shopping centers and museums, large collaborations with museums have not been announced in key shopping centers of Moscow in the next few months. At the same time Budagyan said that could be due to the general seasonal decrease in shopping center attendance and marketing activity in the summer.

Anastasia Makarova contributed to the story

When we talk about retailtainment (in English - Retail - trade and entertainment ) actions speak better than words. This concept is difficult to define because it is constantly evolving to cover retail, gastronomy, interactive technology, education, storytelling and theater. Therefore, retail property owners should maximize the momentum of retailtainment by telling the story of a museum or exhibition throughout their retail space and online. For example, a shopping center can hold an exclusive event for holders of loyalty cards at some of the existing exhibitions or redesign the food court to match the brand of the partner museum. By doing this, malls become interesting to a wider group of customers, whereas young buyers who prefer online shopping will make an effort and visit the shopping center, seeing it as part of a new experience. The result of such cooperation should be a comprehensive experience that balances the strengths of both malls and museums.