Tag Archives: Five Forces

Webinar: The Five Forces Affecting House Museums

Five Forces 2015This Friday, April 8, I’ll be discussing the five forces facing historic house museums in a free webinar hosted by the Wisconsin Historical Society.  It’s based on simple and incredibly useful framework developed by Michael Porter at the Harvard Business School more than 30 years ago but little known outside the corporate business world. I’ll not only examine how the five forces are affecting history museums and historic sites on a national level, but how we can harness those five forces to improve and enhance tours, events, and other public programs.  The webinar starts at 10:30 am Central/11:30 am Eastern for about an hour with time for questions and discussion. Registration is free and available online but limited to 100 people (and you don’t have to be from Wisconsin!).

It’s part of series of local history webinars offered every spring for staff and volunteers at local historical societies, historic preservation organizations, and museums.  In April and May they are offering nine different webinars, including an introduction to PastPerfect 5 with Sarah Kapellusch, the basics of collections care with Craig Deller, and a fresh look at walking tours with Anthony Rubano.  Hats off to the Wisconsin Historical Society for providing this service to museums and historic sites not just in their state, but the rest of the country.

Reinventing the House Museum in Portsmouth

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A sold-out crowd of history enthusiasts packed the auditorium at the Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on April 21 to discuss ways to reinvent the house museum.  Sponsored by the American Association for State and Local History and the New England Museum Association, the one-day workshop explored ways that historic house museums can more successfully engage their community and improve their financial sustainability.

The morning featured several presentations and the afternoon was a hands-on workshop at a nearby historic house.  I opened the day with a process for developing a plan and then focused on Michael Porter’s Five Forces, a diagnostic tool that’s superior to SWOT for assessing a house museum’s strategic position.   Ken Turino of Historic New England provided a smorgasbord of ideas from house museums around the county to rethink existing conceptions.  Larry Yerdon, CEO of the Strawbery Banke Museum, discussed ways they are introducing new programs and activities to be both more engaging and financially sustainable.

After lunch, we gathered at the Governor John Langdon House, a property of Historic New England, where Joanne Flaherty and Linda Marshall led us on a quick inspection of the property and described its operations and recent efforts to use it for temporary exhibits.  Then the audience became temporary consultants using the Five Forces, analyzing existing and potential competition for exhibits, interests from visitors, and collaborating with exhibit providers.  The consensus seemed to be that an exhibit program could have a competitive advantage if it focused on the collections of Historic New England and may be better suited for rooms other than the parlor or dining room, which are architecturally significant.

This workshop will travel next to Atlanta, Georgia on June 12, where we’ll be using the Margaret Mitchell House as the case study.  To register and for more information, visit AASLH.org.