Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Recession's Possible Effect on Museum Attendance

This just in - March 10th in Shaila Dawan's NYT article "A Casualty of Recession": "Holly Moreno, 30, a part-time Web site manager in the Dallas suburb of Rowlett, Tex., whose husband is a business analyst, said she had been taking their 2-year-old son to indoor playgrounds at the mall and free story-times at the library instead of paying to get into the children’s museum, their favorite wintertime haunt."

This is the time to promote museum membership as low-cost,unlimited access: a recession-minded, cost-effective for everyone positive leisure-time activities. Right now museums should see memberships grow the way we can expect to see YMCA/YWCA memberships grwo.

Your museum or site is a safe and smart place to play with the kids, a safe and smart place to walk safely, and a safe and smart place to walk your dog safely (think Trustees of Reservations' Green Dog plan). Encourage folks to think creatively:
  • "Meet your friends for a picnic"
  • "Have coffee with The Masters every Saturday morning",
  • or "Remember when you could spend all day wandering?"
Think about it, a solid percentage ofyour members are movitated by commitment to our institution, the rest by the return on their membeship cost. I've never been a fan of membership, but I can see how in this economy membership is a way to encourage increased visitation as users chase more bang for the buck. It's our opportunity to turn the economic transaction into a long-term friendship; but you can't do that if they're going to the library or mall instead.

Museums should be a balm to recession-weary citizens. If you're looking for a way to build public currency right now, this is it.

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