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10. Sustainability

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Intro Chapter 10: Sustainability

Intro Chapter 10: Sustainability

Last but not least: sustainability. How do you keep your Museum going? Not just one year, but many years? Not just for today's visitors, but for future generations? 

Sustainability is often used in the context of ecology and the environment. But basically, it means taking the future and the needs of future generations into account. 

What can a Museum do to stay open? To continue to attract visitors? Preferably: to attract growing numbers of new visitors?

10.1 Sustainability

10.1 Sustainability

Sustainability has become a 'hot' item in Museum studies. Until recently, it was all about environmental sustainability: how green is a Museum ? How large (or small) is its environmental or ecological footprint: the effect that the Museum has on the environment in the short term and the long term?

Organisational sustainability on the other hand is not so much about the future of our planet, but about the future of a Museum. How to keep the Museum going for another year, for 5 more years or longer?

Because of the energy crisis, these two kinds of sustainability have become one. Museums must cut down on energy costs for heating and lighting to be able to balance their budget. 

What can Museums do, to keep going and to keep attracting visitors? There is of course no 'one size fits all' advice. Some suggestions: 

    • Invest in visitor research to find out what works and what doesn't work in your Museum.
    • Keep applying for funding.
    • Keep investing in sponsors, friends, members.
    • Keep investing in volunteers.
    • Keep energy and maintenance costs down: use led lighting, turn down heating or air conditioning, don't heat or cool rooms that are not used. 
    • Keep investing in exhibits and exhibition design; keep the Museum up to date. Or better yet: make it a trendsetter. Experiment with interactivity, immersion, gamification.  
    • Keep investing in visitors, in promotion, in marketing, in social media.
    • Try to attract new audiences.
    • Try new opening times: evening visits, night visits?
    • Organise regular 'blockbuster' exhibitions that result in a lot of attention, funding, income.
    • Organise special events that will generate a lot of attention: tours, workshops, conferences. 
    • Collaborate with other Museums: share resources, exhibits, equipment, people.

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