Search this site
Museo quarterly

Abstracts 3/2015

The theme of this issue of Museo is better services. Many museums have introduced the means of service design and productisation when they want to examine their operations from the customer perspective.

The American pioneer of marketing and productisation, Theodore Levitt (1925-2006), summed up productisation back in the 1950s when he remarked that, "People don´t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole." This also applies in the museum sector. Kimmo Levä, the Secretary General of the Finnish Museums Association, looks at productisation of museum services from the business perspective. Even if productisation and products appear to many to be too commercial terms for museums, they can help to make the purchase and sales of museum services smoother.

Customers do not buy a product; they buy a solution to their problems. For museums, this means that no one buys research; they buy the information they need. Museum visitors do not buy ticket; they buy experiences. Instead of storing a collection, buyers are looking for a solution to leave messages, information, values and stories about their cultures for future generations.

The Finnish Museum of Photography tested service design when it was building an interactive exhibition on phenomena in contemporary photographic culture. In addition to the staff of the museum, the exhibition working group included Risto Sarvas, an adjunct professor working for software developer Futurice and Aalto University, Asko Lehmuskallio, a researcher in visual culture at the University of Tampere, and many students from Aalto University specialising in social media and mobile photography.

Initially, service design sounded to a museum professional like a combination of taking the audience into account, brainstorming and common sense, in other words, normal good exhibition process. The new feature of the project was cooperation between the museum, software developer and university, which is unique internationally.

The end result is an exhibition benefiting all parties. The museum got a more insightful exhibition with organisers from three different bodies. The visitors had the chance to participate in photographing, sharing and commenting. Futurice benefited from displaying its technological expertise and participating in social debate on digitisation. The university benefited from multi-dimensional popularisation. The museum benefited from inspiring content cooperation and financial help.

This issue also discusses varied audience services at museums. Maija Komonen's article presents museums as activity centres with services suitable for all ages, from toddlers to pensioners. Focus groups for pedagogical activities are selected based on the museum profile, and service planning utilises widespread cooperation networks.

Espoo City Museum takes families with children into account in their activities. The museum cooperates with the social department in cultural maternity clinic activities where museum staff visit open maternity clinics. The Northern Ostrobothnia Museum has planned a self-directed museum tour with the Memory Association of the Oulu Region. The tour is aimed at people with memory deficiencies and their families, either in groups or with a family caregiver.

The issue also discusses artists' fees. Artists and museums have a close bond and need each other. However, the bond is not unambiguous, especially when it comes to money. The Finnish museum sector does not have a general agreement that would define a mutual policy with regard to artist's fees paid for exhibitions, or exhibition compensation or salary paid to artists.

Currently, many museums compensate artists for exhibitions but only a few pay a salary. There are many reasons for this, but the most common is the tight exhibition budget of museums. There is a willingness to pay, but no money. Artist Kalle Mustonen and museum director Johanna Lehto-Vahtera shed light on the matter from both sides.

In her column, Rita Paqvalén prepares for 2017 and Finland´s centenary as an independent nation. Many museums are already hard at work planning the programme for the jubilee. The jubilee will provide museums and all the residents of Finland with a chance to stop to think about who we are and where we are going. At the same time, it is an opportunity to update our image of Finland, fix earlier deviations and create a more polyphonic story of Finnish history.

The exhibition review visits the renovated RIISA, the Orthodox Church Museum of Finland. The museum was closed for a long time due for building renovation work, and the costs incurred by the museum were debated among the congregation. Ilona Sidoroff discusses whether the church got value for its money. According to the review, the end result is a modern and clear exhibition that offers an important perspective on Finnish history and brings variation to the Finnish museum field.