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11th September 2015 Sara Lock

Western Australian Museum – Business Model Case Study

By: Mark Robinson


A case study exploring the business model of Western Australian Museum, as it moves into the delivery phase of the largest museum building project in the Southern Hemisphere.

Introducing Western Australian Museum

The Western Australian Museum (WAM) comprises six public sites as well as a Collection and Research Centre that houses more than 4.5 million objects from rare fossils to the iconic racing yacht Australia II. It also manages 200 shipwreck sites, of the 1,500 known to be located off the WA coast, and 8 Aboriginal land reserves.

Although Western Australia is a huge physical area in UK terms - roughly the size of Western Europe - the population is around 2.5 million. Overall, that’s just one person per square kilometre but almost 2 million live in and around Perth.

Having received an investment of $428M (c£200M) from the State Government, WAM is currently moving into the delivery phase of the largest museum building project in the Southern Hemisphere.

The New Museum will allow WAM to do what the organisation describes as ‘turning the museum inside out’, creating public spaces built around its Value Proposition.

The WAM Strategic Plan refers to giving ‘every visitor and user, physical or virtual, a legitimate way (should they choose) to contribute to the Museum and its content and impact, to share ideas and knowledge, to connect with other people, and to feel like
an engaged and respected participant.’

The Business Model

WAM’s current business model arguably falls into the category of having multiple epicentres.

WAM brings together a unique set of assets and Key Resources that encompass heritage, culture, science and the environment. It connects these with the interests of a broad range of Customer Segments.

Assets, resources and customers are united through a new people-focused Value Proposition
that positions WAM as ‘of the people, by the people and for the people’.

The Museum’s role is to be a place where people can explore, understand, express and share
their identity, culture and sense of place. This includes regional centres and WA Museum sites outside of its Perth base, as well as partnerships with community museums, heritage groups and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

A new CEO, Alec Coles, joined the organisation in 2009 and brought a vision of what WAM
could achieve for Western Australia and Western Australians. He changed the Value Proposition from the stewardship of assets, objects and knowledge to a more people-focused proposition. It has been suggested that the organisation was previously inward-focused and there had been a drift towards an entitlement and victim culture.

New leadership spurred an outward shift in focus. It added a community and social capital
development aspect to the preservation and sharing of social, heritage and scientific
knowledge.

While the Museum was facing severe financial pressure, the main driver for change was to
increase impact and demonstrate relevance. The State Government, other funders through the
Museum’s Foundation and other partners have embraced the new vision and value that WAM
could bring to stakeholders and the people of Western Australia.

Download the case study to read more:
The Western Australian Museum Business Model Case Study (PDF).

Published:2015

Smart tags: museum museums innovation business model

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