Thoughts on Readings for February 25

I think a lot of these articles say less about museums and more about the ways in which we feel about services and resources in our society. It is clear from most of the readings, that what is valued most in this society is a corporate and capitalistic mentality. We live not in a market economy, but a market society where almost anything can be bought and sold. The articles in the book make it perfectly evident that our history is no exception.

According to John Falk and Beverly Sheppard in “Creating a New Business Model”, it is evident that museums have shifted from an accessible, shared, public service (like a library) to a business for many people. The authors state: “Today museums must compete for audience, publicity, and resources.” Why do museums need to follow a business model? Why do they need to compete? Once museums become part of the market economy their focus is no longer on serving a public need, but on making money. However, article after article places museums in a corporate context, the editor’s decision to include the article by John P. Kotter, “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail,” in this book implies that museums and corporate businesses and their goals are interchangeable.

In the article written by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, “Museums and Libraries in the 21st Century: New Contexts and Skills Definitions” it is disheartening that this organization is also advocating that museums follow a corporate model, including the use of invasive marketing. Audiences expect connections from museums, why turn museums into for-profit white noise that exists in nearly every corner of our lives? Museums should not feel the pressure to compete in the market place, just like a library shouldn’t feel the need to compete with Barnes and Noble. The goals are different, so the methods of executing those goals should also be different. The article by the Institute was also filled with the most self-evident concepts, and this was the most disturbing aspect of the article. If statements such as, “ Evaluate information critically and competently”, need to be stated at all then the museum industry has much larger problems than trying to expand their audiences.

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