How museum shops can survive in a difficult retail environment

When people enjoy their museum experience, they often want to hold on to it and an item from the museum shop can do just that. Museum shops are part of the experience – I think we have all been there making impulse purchases of exhibition catalogues, postcards or another mementos. 

But it is not easy for museum shops to navigate the current retail environment. In this article a retail and catering designer talks about his experience and recent work for M+, Hong Kong’s newly opened Museum of Visual Culture. He thinks that the survival of museum shops relies on unique, specific experiences that blend seamlessly from exhibitions.

“You should be walking into the shop and not necessarily understanding that you’re in it or that it’s a separate entity.”

Callum Lumsden, Founder and Creative Director at retail and catering designer Lumsden

The opportunity is to create a brand experience – as distinct from branded products – and taking fewer cues from the high street. Local museums might even have an advantage over city or national organisations – “the local museums are the ones that can really reach out to communities” by working with local artists or makers.

Image: private/Tate

Author: sabine.doolin

Strategy consultant working with the cultural sector

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