Presentation on theme: "15 th Annual Conference of National Trusts Entebbe, Uganda 30 September - 4 October 2013 MERCHANDISING THE MONUMENT: A practical guide to establishing."— Presentation transcript:
15 th Annual Conference of National Trusts Entebbe, Uganda 30 September - 4 October 2013 MERCHANDISING THE MONUMENT: A practical guide to establishing a museum shop Maureen Liebl Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur Rajasthan (India)
Mehrangarh Fort is one of Indias most important historic monuments. It belongs to the erstwhile Maharaja of Jodhpur/Marwar, H.H. Gaj Singh (known throughout the world as Bapji), a pioneer of heritage tourism in India and recipient of the World Monument Funds Hadrian Award. As a young man in 1972, Bapji created the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, and turned the Fort over to it, thus ensuring that it would always be open and accessible to the citizens of the region and the world.
The process of turning the Fort into a world-class museum began slowly in the early 1970s. Today, it is an internationally acclaimed site, recipient of numerous awards and accolades, and host to nearly a million visitors each year.
The idea of establishing a museum shop within the Fort developed in the mid-1990s, with the dual goal of developing a fresh revenue stream for the Forts restoration and maintenance, and providing a service to visitors.
As early as 1999, a UNESCO symposium on cultural industries concluded that "the industries of the imagination, content, knowledge, innovation and creation clearly are the industries of the future.* * UNESCO, 1999. "General Conclusions of the Symposium of Experts on 'Culture: A Form of Merchandise Like No Other?' Culture, the Market, and Globalization." June 14-15, 1999.
CULTURAL COMMERCE -- knowledge-driven, labor intensive, and with a great multiplier effect on local economic development -- is an appealing answer to the question of how cultural institutions can meet the increasing need for new forms of patronage and new sources of income. If handled with sensitivity, such activities can also add greatly to the enjoyment and understanding of visitors.
Museum shops are among the most rewarding segments of the cultural commerce sector. Almost all museums in the U.S., Europe, and increasingly in other parts of the world, as well as many national trusts and heritage sites, now have museum shops. The largest earn millions of dollars of revenue for their institutions.
KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF A MUSEUM SHOP: 1. The profits benefit the institution, not any individual or commercial group.
2. Products are designed/chosen to enhance the visitors experience of the museum or site, and all relate in some way to either the institutions collections, or to the culture and/or history of the region. KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF A MUSEUM SHOP:
KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF A MUSEUM SHOP 3. Products reflect the high standards of the institution/organization/site in terms of quality, and also in terms of ethics: i.e., no use of banned substances, no exploitation of artisans or workers, fair prices paid and charged.
KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF A MUSEUM SHOP 4. All products are designed/purchased in collaboration with, or with the approval of, curatorial or other professional staff. They have final veto power over any commercial decision.
The Museum Shop at Mehrangarh Fort was established (in 1998) keeping all these essential characteristics in mind. Since there were no professional museum shops in India when we began, however, we also hoped to serve as both an experiment and a model.
To begin, we were given a space in the Fort, uninhabited for as long as anyone could remember. Since funds were limited, we began by raiding the storerooms for cabinets, badgering friends for inventory on consignment, and churning out labels and signs on home computers. Even in this rudimentary form, however, the shop was an immediate hit with Fort visitors.
Within 5 years (by 2004), the Museum Shop was beginning to show a very healthy profit, and visitor response was enthusiastic. The Trustees became confident enough to approve funds for complete re-design and upgradation of the space.
Five years later (2009), the Trustees approved further expansion, and an upper level was added. This enabled us to greatly expand our product ranges, and to introduce more expensive merchandise as well (fine jewellery and textiles)
Each expansion and re-design had immediate and dramatic effect in increasing sales as well as visibility. During this time, the Fort also began receiving growing international recognition, and the Shop was very much a part of this.
In 2007, in their BEST OF ASIA issue, Time named Mehrangarh the Best Fortress in Asia, and added that:. The shop could be an annex to New York Citys Museum of Modern Art.
CURRENT SITUATION, Today the Mehrangarh Museum Shop: Provides substantial revenue to the Trust; Has shown consistent annual growth (averaging 52% per year); Employs more than 2 dozen local staff members; Is tremendously popular with both foreign and domestic visitors.
Creating and maintaining the brand image for a shop of international standard, but with relevance to the Indian context, has been a challenge and a learning experience. The basic lessons we have learned are summarized below.
CREATING THE BRAND: FIRST STEPS 1.Develop Brand Logo 2.Develop Brand Packaging 3.Begin Product Development
IMMEDIATE NEED: Develop a strong logo / brand image
In Jodhpur, we decided to use the cheel (pariah kite), as it is the Fort mascot and a bird with strong symbolic and historical meaning in the Fort.
1 st Step: Develop a logo that will also serve as a visual brand image; for Letterheads Business Cards Bills Staff Uniforms
If the logo image is strong enough, and identifies with the institution, it can even be used for product design
2 nd Step: Packaging Design Is the next step; it creates your brand image and serves as free advertising and publicity. In this case, we used an image from a painting in our collection; a graphic designer turned it into this striking design. We use it on signs and labels, as well as packaging.
PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT: The Major Challenge Creativity is required in looking for resources
Product Development Most viable products to begin with: Postcards / Books Tee-shirts / Caps Tote Bags
Other Source / Resources: Jodhpur Polo Team Jodhpur / Rajasthan History Rajasthani Crafts Aspects of Contemporary India (Bollywood; Auto-rickshaws; Tea) Indian materials/production (Handmade paper; Handcrafted jewelry)
Importance of investment in: Good Design Good Materials Good Packaging
In addition to customized products, a wide variety of other products can be sourced. They should all, however, relate in some way to the institution or to local culture/history/heritage.
Museum Shops in the Indian Context: To adapt the international museum shop model to India, we have emphasized the following: All products are made in India We support various NGOs We involve local craftspersons and small businesses
Please see our online commerce site: www.mehrangarhmuseumshop.com