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Summary of Project Option in Lieu of Thesis
Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Master of Arts
FACILITY RENTAL BUSINESS PLAN FOR THE FLORIDA MUSEUM OF
NATURAL HISTORY: WEIGHING MISSION AGAINST SURVIVAL
Leslie L. Campbell
Chair: Victoria Rovine
My project is a comprehensive business plan for the Florida Museum of Natural
History to provide rental opportunities for various spaces within the Museum. It will take
into consideration the mission, as well as the economic needs of the Museum. Some of
the sections will include staffing, management, expected income, resource management,
pricing, and cost recovery for rental items (such as tables and chairs), evaluation of
storage needs, and marketing (including website design). My project will assess the
relationship between the institution's mission and its financial survival aspect and review
the business plan process.
Since the 1990s, museums have seen a decrease in government funding leading to
a time of financial uncertainty. Business enterprises are increasingly becoming a more
important source of revenue for museums. These can include gift shops, cafes and
restaurants, and facility rentals. A successful example of a business enterprise would be
The Met Store. The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened a gift shop at the museum, and
also opened stores across the world and on the internet. At present, The Met Store
provides a significant portion of earned income for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
However, the innovativeness of this venture caused many in the nonprofit sector to
question the ethics behind a profit-based business related to a prestigious art museum.
Other museums, such as the Field Museum in Chicago, have created elaborate facility
rental options, which are made available to the general public, to increase earned income
for their organizations.
The ICOM Code for Professional Ethics states that, "Museum shops and any
other commercial activities should be relevant to the collections and the basic
educational purpose of the museum, and must not compromise the quality of those
collections." So this begs the question, how do museums supplement their revenue while
maintaining the principles of their missions? The Florida Museum of Natural History
finds itself dealing with this issue each fiscal year. The Museum's total revenue in
2005-2006 was $18.1 million. Of that, the State allocation was only 45% of the total
revenue. In comparison, the State allocation was 71% of the total revenue in 1999-2000.
Although it appears that funding has been cut from the budget it has actually remained
constant, year after year. All other sources of income to run the Museum have increased
disproportionately to the State allocation. Funds from the State of Florida are failing to
keep pace with inflation. Museums, like the Florida Museum of Natural History, must
learn to be resourceful if they want to keep their doors open to the public.