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How to save museums in times of crisis

21 November 2012 / 22:11:54  GRReporter
3662 reads

Museums in social networks. Museums, where you can enjoy a drink and participate in the "night of dating." Free admission museums. Museums that  cooperate with each other.

In this time of crisis, cultural institutions are forced to implement drastic changes in the way they operate if they want to ensure the minimum on which their existence depends.

A discussion on "Business museums" took place in Athens a few days ago, featuring internationally recognized experts in securing sponsorships and marketing and public relations specialists from major cultural institutions abroad.

"The audience is looking for different ways to experience art," said Ryan French, marketing and public relations director at the cultural Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. It is one of the five most visited museums in the United States with over 600 thousand visitors annually.

"Social networks are a very simple solution and an increasing number of museums are turning to them. They provide a way of communication with the audience. At the Walker Art Center, we did not allow taking pictures until we learned that it is not possible to stop it. So, we decided to change our policy and to "share" these pictures on social networks. Today, the voice of the people is very strong via Twitter. Therefore, the "wall" between art and audience no longer exists."

In his opinion, negative criticism in social networks is an advantage. The people who work in the museum can engage in a dialogue with visitors who are dissatisfied with something, exchange their arguments, express their personal opinion and express their needs.

Free admission is another idea, Marianne Rans claims, who is in charge of business relations in the Science Museum in London. In her opinion, no one should be surprised that culture is one of the first victims of the crisis. "This happens in the UK too. When money drops, culture becomes a luxury." But, as she said, in periods that are difficult in financial terms, the admission to some of the major British museums is free. "On the one hand, it is this way but on the other, we ask the visitors if they would like to make a donation to the museum." In her opinion, free admission can be introduced during certain days of the week and thus museums will be able to attract more visitors.

James R. Hackney, managing director of the consulting firm Alexander Haas, is a specialist in sponsorships for museums. He has found out in a piece of research that there is no cooperation between museums. "For example, there is not a single ticket. In Atlanta, where I live, you can visit all the museums with a single ticket. All Americans have known about the Acropolis and the Parthenon since they were children. Here, see the first settlers in the United States who tried to make the country look like Greece, the home of democracy. We had no history and we looked at Greece. Yet today in the United States, we hear about organized campaigns for museums and cultural sites in countries like France, Germany and even South Africa, but not about Greece. Often people who live near these things forget how important and valuable they are. "

He argues that the crisis should be an opportunity. "If the state cannot provide money for museums, then you should turn to private owners. In the United States, we have the example of a new museum, to which Alice Walton donated 80 million euro. Why cannot something similar happen in Greece on a smaller scale?"

But how could a museum attract sponsorships, once there is no money in the market? Marianne Rans believes that even if this was the case, "maybe the crisis is a good opportunity to seek sponsors abroad. Let's face it: the Acropolis and Pompeii are international brands that would mobilize the whole world to save them in the case of need. Greece just does not avail experts trained for this task."

The Science Museum in London attracts approximately 3 million visitors a year, but its staff continually strives to attract the interest of more people. "We address children, parents with children, people without children, the elderly, the communities of Asians and Africans in London, we organize "gay and lesbian" nights. We organize nights when the people carry sleeping bags and sleep in the museum. Do you know what the most popular event in the museum is? It is the last Wednesday of each month when we organize nights for single men and women. There is a queue in front of the museum. We play relaxing music and serve drinks. Would a Greek museum dare to do something like that?"

 

 

Tags: Nine musesMuseumsCrisisVisitorsEventsSpnsorship
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