Discover how Black Country Living Museum’s determination to offer compelling and educational experiences drives innovation.
Introducing Black Country Living Museum
Black Country Living Museum (BCLM) is an open-air museum and educational charity located in Dudley in the West Midlands. It tells the story of the Black Country and its importance as arguably the first industrial landscape in the world.
It sits on a 26-acre site in Dudley, near Birmingham, where a new ‘place’ has been created on formerly derelict land using a now designated collection of objects and archive material.
It has been an independent organisation since 1976 and is the UK’s third most visited open-air museum.
Its entire collection has designated status and BCLM is a Major Partner Museum of Arts Council England, in partnership with Culture Coventry.
The Business Model
The core of BCLM’s business model is its Value Proposition. The visitor experience is central and intended to be more than simply diverting; it should be compelling and educational.
The quality of the visitor experience is core to the model as the Museum receives very little external funding. It consistently earns more than 90% of its revenue from admissions, trading and retail activity. Trading activity accounts for around one third of
revenue income but this is reliant upon both visitor numbers and the quality of experience.
The Chief Executive of BCLM describes the direction he has taken the Museum in as moving ‘from being known to being wanted’. This powerfully illustrates why the business model is driven mainly by the Value Proposition rather than by the Key Resources, although they remain vital and are central to the Museum’s identity.
It also suggests the importance of Customer Relationships to this model. A dual focus on purpose and public benefit has helped connect performance to the Value Proposition. The purpose - and much brand development in recent years to express this to potential customers and partners - has shifted from maintaining a repository of collections and building assets to the active use of material in partnership with visitors, researchers or other users.
The epicentre of innovation in the business model lies more in Value Proposition and the relationships the Museum generates than in the sites and collections it uses.
Achieving the desired relationship with visitors, and at a secondary level with funders and business users, drives the revenue streams.
It is in some ways a simple and classic model: satisfied customers who feel they are getting ‘value’ generate more visits but also greater secondary spend through trading and events. The relationships are rooted in experience, location and value for money but do not aim to be as ‘co-creation’ or ‘co-curation’ focused as some other business models.
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Black Country Living Museum Business Model Case Study (PDF)