SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The DJ spinning music after dark could become as common as the docent leading daytime tours in museums experimenting with new ways to increase attendance and avoid falling victim to the slow economy.

The Oakland Museum and the de Young Museum keep their doors open late at least once a week. The California Academy of Sciences went further, adding live music that’s made its Thursday night programs popular with 20-somethings.

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“These three museums in particular have become more of a gathering place, more of a community resource. They still have that academic side, but they’re looking at how they can attract younger and more diverse audiences,” said Adrienne Horn, president of Museum Management Consultants.

Less funding from city governments and fewer private donations have led Bay Area museums to rethink priorities and the ways they operate, adding more than a hint of pop culture to draw paying crowds into the storehouses of elite culture.

“It’s really about the redefinition of museums in their community, and their becoming more of a resource to a much greater, diverse population,” Horn said.

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Museums once focused primarily on caring for and displaying their collections. Now the cost of the collection must be balanced against operating costs.

“It’s still about collections and caring for them, but it’s also about what is going to draw attendance,” Horn said.

“What are compelling exhibitions, programs? And at the same time, how does an organization stay financially stable.”

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