Museums have changed over the years, or at least what part of the public wants from museums has changed over the years. In Creating a New Business Model, Katherine Lee Reid is quoted commenting on the change she has witnessed within the museum in her own lifetime. She said, “Today the focus on the museum is on audience and the relationship of art to people. In my father’s day when he ran the museum, the focus was almost exclusively on the idea of art. This is a fundamental shift” (John Falk and Beverly Sheppard, pg. 379). This shift in how museums are perceived come to reflect the difficulties that present-day public historians face in the museum world. They must either adjust or completely change their business model in order to survive. The authors of the article explain how the outdated top-down business model common within many museums do not effectively take into count the customer’s in which they are meant to serve;this business model reflects the generation of Reid’s father. It is as the authors put it a “build it and they will come” approach (pg.382). Museums that take this approach may count on large or exciting exhibits to attract their consumer base; by large or exciting exhibits I refer to perhaps a King Tut exhibit. In contrast, they maintain for a bottom-up model to be used. Through this model, Falk and Sheppard argue that the consumer must be emphasized through a system that takes the interactions of all environments or pieces of society into consideration.
Public historians must come to realize that the environment that they live in is in a constant state of change. By using a bottom-top model, public historians are able to create a model that is more receptive to change. Like all business models, it must be constructed to fit local conditions and be supported by the employees at the institution it is implemented in. without support from within, the chances of a business model succeeding, or any model for that model, is poor. A flexible business model will allow musuems the ability to handle unforseen situations such as the ups and downs of the economy in which they can thrive or die in.
Such as the business model must be relevant to the museum or institution that uses it, so too must the the artifacts be relevant to the consumer base those institutions cater to. In his article, Dan Spock presents an argument for this relevance. If the consumer base does not make a connection with the artifacts, the museum has failed. Many museums exist in order to serve the public. They accomplish this through both successfully perserving the artifacts and creating exhibits that draw in the public again and again. This is no easy task to accomplish, but this is a task that all public historians face.