Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino
This might be old news to you, but still. Too often, when it comes to national budgets, culture has been regarded not as an asset but rather a liability, one of those “last to invest, first to cut” budget lines. And then, the pandemic came – with its unprecedented impact on museums worldwide, disrupting activities and business models, threatening their financial survival and the livelihood of thousands of museum professionals. Everywhere, museums started to confront the reality that audiences may never again participate in the same ways that they once did.
But cheer up! We are not telling you this to make you sad: there is a great opportunity here to explore how museum membership programs might look in a post----COVID----19 world. It’s about time to go beyond one----off revenue drivers such as single tickets to virtual events or zoom cameos: most museums are called to develop comprehensive business models aimed to create value and recurring cash flow in new, untraditional ways. And to pursue new sustainable revenue streams, museums must now be brave enough to design new business models for membership. This is what the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino wanted us to help them do.
One of the finest museums of its kind in the whole of South America, the Museo Precolombino has an extraordinary collection of over 3,000 pieces drawing from the major pre----Columbian culture areas of Mesoamerica; the Pan----Caribbean, Colombian, Amazonia and the Andean. The collection ranges from about 10,000 years. Quite some time, innit? In the aftermath of the pandemic, the museum needed a campaign concept to announce their new membership and donation programme. In a country like Chile without a huge philanthropic culture, this is a pretty ambitious endeavor. And this is, of course, the reason why we liked it.
This was not about asking for money – this is about creating a community to support a common past: a shared heritage that, contrary to certain general belief, isn’t dead at all. For many societies, our shared cultura precolombina is the lifeblood of identities. But how could we transmit this idea? How could we convey, in a straightforward campaign language, the timeless value and cultural relevance of this shared past – of the material pieces and the immaterial narratives, the music and the songs, the portraits and the stories treasured by the museum?
Well, we decided to bring the discourse to a timeline we can all understand. “Presente Precolombino” is the concept of a campaign whose goal is to understand the importance of the past not just for its historical and archeological value, but as a vibrant and lively legacy which continuously influences our present as a society. Not just ancient papers and fragile statues, but a living testimony of who we were and who we are. This is a very important campaign for us: we conceived it for it to stand as a bold antecedent, a vivid reminder of how business models aren’t immutable but are just there waiting to be subverted. A statement of how, with good ideas and a collective effort from citizens to institutions, there’s nothing that can’t be changed.