Reflections on Reinventing the Museum, Part 3

Looking at museums from a business perspective is crucial to understanding the role that museum and other historic entities will play in the twenty-first century. Not having a business background I really appreciated the way that the articles for this week presented business concepts and models in a way that was very straightforward and relatable. Since most museums are considered non-profit organizations, many people do not think of museums in business terms, but rather in terms of what a museum can bring to a community or in terms of the importance and relevance of the artifacts. While this might be an understandable perspective for the general public, I found it rather shocking that in some instances professionals working with museums have yet to understand the importance of looking at a museum as a business. In the article, “Creating a New Business Model,” authors John Flak and Beverly Sheppard attempt to define the term business model and explain the importance of business models for museums. Within this article, however, they also explain with urgency that museums need to shift their perspective to include a more business-minded understanding of their role in the larger business world. Flak and Sheppard explain that, “nonprofits, like museums, have business models just as certainly as do for-profits; it’s just that they are not always aware of it” (p. 380). This example works as proof that museums need to reexamine their position as a business in order to ensure the continued existence and presence of museums as a necessary piece of a thriving community.

            As I began to search the Center for the Future of Museums blog, I tried to keep the idea of business models in the back of my head. As I searched I came across a post from January 17, 2013, titled, “For Your Financial Radar: Social Impact Investing.” I found this post very interested and directly related to the readings for this week regarding good business practices. The blog post focused on a relatively new mode of investing that combines for-profit, nonprofit, and government entities. This type of social impact investing allows for different entities to enter into a project with different levels of risk and payoff options. Although some of the financial jargon was a little over my head, I did appreciate that this type of investing intentionally brings together groups and organizations from different sectors of the economy and any sort of collaborative effort will ultimately yield positive results.

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