Unlikely Partners Can Boost Revenue and Attendance for Museums and Science Centers

by Prasana William

Sometimes the best partner is the one you least expect. That’s the lesson learned by the attractions and partners involved in Monday’s education session “Museums and What? Strange Bedfellows to Drive Revenue and Attendance.” From prison guards to a banana catsup factory, these partnerships reinvented the power of collaboration to draw guests.

Partnerships with community, media, or corporate collaborators have different strengths.

“It’s not a one-way street—it’s a mutual situation,” said Robert “Mac” West of Informal Learning Experiences. The museum or science center has the opportunity to react to the way the community evolves, with the potential to reach people who might not visit the facility. In turn, the attraction can bring new perspective to locals—increasing the community’s flow of new ideas in the long run.

Certain community partners can also extend the marketing reach of a facility. Kim Moore and Ron Foth Jr. of Ron Foth Advertising hold many industry clients, including the Columbus Zoo. To further the zoo’s attendee footprint, they partnered with local tourism bureaus that promoted the Columbus area to surrounding cities. The zoo’s message was carried beyond its immediate community with the tourism bureaus’ communications.

Corporate sponsorships are standard at most museums and science centers, and can play a vital role in making new exhibits possible. At times, however, the business can reach out to the facility for expert help. Such was the case when NutriAsia contacted The Mind Museum in the Philippines to help create a museum for one of its most popular products: banana catsup. This condiment has a long and important history in the Philippines, and NutriAsia sees the museum as a way to give back to the community. The attraction’s objective is to use banana catsup to teach traditional Filipino values of ingenuity, resourcefulness, and hard work, while also showing the process by which this popular condiment is made to broaden community perspective of science and history.

The company sought out The Mind Museum to help create an attraction that made science fun.

Angie Flaminiano“There’s a vision we have in common: Both The Mind Museum and NutriAsia believe in presenting science as real, current, and relevant—a kind of everyday magic. NutriAsia’s mantra, that there’s science in each of our bottles, is congruent with The Mind Museum’s advocacy [message] that science is alive and everywhere,” said Angie Flaminiano of NutriAsia. “If the main ingredient of a partnership is trust, then the vision and values shared between The Mind Museum and NutriAsia are a fantastic start.”

Staff from The Mind Museum immersed themselves in the manufacturing process of banana catsup and created a narrative that incorporated the science, history, and ethical learnings NutriAsia desired. The museum is set to open in summer 2017.

On appealing to corporate partners, Flaminiano advised museums and science centers to understand their worth to businesses: “A museum brings an incomparable sense of pride to a company and its employees. Not only does the museum perpetuate a company’s identity, it also gives context to a company’s story, and makes it part of a larger narrative. More importantly, it allows for the sharing of meaningful customs, stories, and values that have relevance to the community we serve. Beyond promoting the company’s products, a museum allows a company to work more deeply in nation building.”


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