HOW CAN YOU BUILD A SUSTAINABLE
FUTURE FOR YOUR MUSEUM?
         MUSEUM CONSULTANT, CAROL SCOTT, USES AN INSTITUTION'S VALUE TO ACHIEVE MAXIMUM IMPACT WITH STAKEHOLDERS AND THE PUBLIC.
Carol Scott

How Far Will We Go? Reconciling public values and museum values

Carol Scott - Monday, May 05, 2014
Last week, I gave a keynote presentation about Museums and Public Value for FARO, the Flemish Interface Institution of Cultural Heritage (Belgium) which operates as an intermediary between the Flemish cultural government and the broader cultural heritage sector.

As so often happens when preparing a presentation, one discovers new questions within familiar territory. This is what happened to me when I was thinking about the role of the public in Public Value and how far we will go to acknowledge the public as authorizers of value.

 

If organisations are to create public value in their practices and use evaluative standards to measure their performance, then those values and evaluative standards must be authorised by the public.

 

What happens, then, when the values of an organisation and those of the public are at variance? When Moore talks about addressing ‘unmet social needs’ in the public realm as a focus for public value creation, it resonates strongly with the museum sector’s focus on the social impact agenda of museums. So what do we do when the public indicates that the social impact agenda is not what they value most about museums?

 

Britain Thinks 2013 research for The Museums Association provided a very interesting example of this variance between the intentions of the organisation and the value of the public. The research found that public strongly values museums and is aware that the current economic situation places them under extreme pressures. Addressing the facts, the public suggests that the best use of funding at this time is to ensure core functions such as conservation, interpretation and education and learning. These are the essential things about museums which the public value and they are rightly concerned about how much we can undertake as a sector in these economically stringent times.

So what does this mean for the social impact agenda? How do we address variance when we encounter it? How much do we value the public’s value?   

 

References

Blaug R. Horner L. and Lekhi R. (2006). Public value, politics and public management: A literature review. London: The Work Foundation.

Britain Thinks. (2013). Public Perceptions- and attitudes to- the purposes of museums in society. London: Museums Association.

Kelly G. Mulgan G. And Muers, S. (2002). Creating public value: an analytical framework for public service reform. London:  Strategy Unit, Cabinet Office.

Scott C. A. (2010). Searching for the public in Public Value: arts and cultural heritage in Australia. Cultural Trends, 19, 4, 273- 289.

Scott C.A. (2013). Museums and Public Value: creating sustainable futures. London: Ashgate.

 

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