The AAM article, written by Brendan Ciecko, CEO & Founder, Cuseum and recently published in Museum Magazine explains how museums achieve harmony around taking on risks related to the business model, whilst highlighting some of the creative approaches museums have already taken.
The central proposition is that electronic technology along with its new abilities and capacities is at the core of the business sector. Consequently, the key question related to the museum industry is to determine how this new reality can be successfully incorporated into museums and institutions. With an ever-increasing need for museums to evolve quickly to face competition and modern changes, museums and institutions are ready to take risks and explore. An explanation of the incentive behind this change is the “museopreneur”.
mu·se·o·pre·neur | myüzē-äp(r)ə-ˈnər
Noun: one who embraces or assumes characteristics of an entrepreneur to advance their museum’s business model and general operations.
I would suggest, however, that entrepreneurism in Museums is not just about having a set of metrics that include business development to measure performance. To my mind this does not push the museopreneur concept to its ultimate conclusion, as it does not go far enough in looking back out to the core of museum mission statements that have steadily developed over the last forty years to be the inclusive outwardly looking educational statements they are today. A mainly commercial focus to museum entrepreneurism therefore risks forgetting that museums are not businesses though their potential for income generation is much more than has been traditionally thought. They are not businesses in the way they are not entertainment centres as effort in personal engagement and interpretation should always be required from their visitors. They are also not Legoland or a film studio tour as, although there is nothing wrong in a museum using the techniques of edutainment, they are not entertainment except as a side-effect of visitors gaining knowledge and understanding.
Museum entrepreneurism should really then work in two ways - not only the areas where strategic commercial management tools can be applied to museum income streams leading back into improved care collection and display but also in the arena of a museum’s social dynamism. This social entrepreneurism backed by more secure financial income stream can become better involved in co-operative projects, creating knowledge impact through networked resources, extending visitor and educational services, as well as improving the museum’s brand recognition.
Museums now find themselves in perhaps the best possible position to take advantage of the advances in technology and fulfil a social role they have previously only imagined. A full understanding of being a museopreneur will be an important tool in achieving the dynamic reality.
What do you think? Please do post your comments below.
Associate Director of Research, Barker Langham Recruitment