The convergence of the digital and on-the-ground economies works its way through the museum industry. This article provides a thoughtful grounding to how the industry came to be, the transformative moment (a hint of this in the set of quotes below), and suggests emergent business models to tap into going forward.

In particular, the author focuses on demand pricing (think Lyft and Uber) and Netflix-like subscriptions. As a part-time Lyft driver myself (my other jobs include working in the IT department at a college in Boston, and to an increasing degree curating these posts), I can fully appreciate the dynamic that could be unleashed with these powerful new tools and approaches.

Visitor numbers have grown to record highs over the last 15 years, driven by global tourism; by their opening up to the web and digital media, and the brilliance of a legendary generation of great directors led by Neil MacGregor at the British Museum and Nicholas Serota at the Tate. Yet they live with the perception of economic uncertainty.

But what if economic change was possible from within? What if there were things implicit in the business models of museums that could evolve and allow them to be re-fit for the age of the digital economy? What would that mean?

That model held for a long time – largely until the 1970s, when both capitalism as a whole, and museums economic models began to change, and a more pronounced need for consumerism came about. Over the course of that decade, the modern business model of the museum emerged. It happened because as the global economy went into what turned out to be 40 years and more of stagnation, the museum sector got its greatest ever moment: King Tut came out of Egypt, and the world turned out to watch. […]