The museum organization

Author:
Benedict Goes

Original Title:
De museumorganisatie

Publication Year:
2015

Policy

The museum logically performs the primary museum tasks: it manages the unique collection, archives, conducts scientific research, publishes publications and takes care of educational projects. It also initiates and participates in exhibitions to connect a larger audience to the rich story surrounding the tobacco pipe and smoking. In addition, the museum strives for financial independence, with the aim of being able to function by 2020 on the basis of its own income without relying on private donations. Equity must also have been built up that is sufficient to bridge five years of operation.

Additional activities are necessary in order to provide the museum with this solid basis for business purposes. To this end, the board has drawn up the Cultural Business Plan. This business plan outlines the company goals for the coming years as a guideline for management and employees. This plan also gives external parties, such as public and private funds, an idea of ​​what the Amsterdam Pipe Museum is striving for in the short, medium and long term and through which means the foundation wants to achieve these goals.

The Amsterdam Pipe Museum is in fact a textbook example of cultural entrepreneurship: without subsidy, management tasks are carried out on the basis of own income and private donations. Occasionally, grants from government, public or private funds are used on a project basis. Thanks to the independence of sponsors, the Amsterdam Pipe Museum has been able to prevent the management and collection itself from being threatened in their survival, as happened with the collections related to the tobacco industry.

More efficient operational management can be achieved by formulating separate objectives for sub-areas, whereby the collection continues to form the core of all activities. The following topics are discussed in the sections below:

  • museum collection
  • research and information
  • audience
  • management of the museum and museum shop

The Museum Collection

The museum collection of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum with representative examples of the smoking culture from all over the world is a product of fifty years of consistent policy of collecting. Nevertheless, this collection still requires regular purchases to stay up-to-date. These purchases must be of a high quality and are intended to fill a gap in the existing collection. In addition, documenting the collection is a high priority. Knowledge - also from publications of third parties - is after thorough validation carefully updated and expertise is recorded. All this is the responsibility of the curator.

In addition to the permanent exhibition in Amsterdam, parts of the collection can be exhibited in other places. A satellite presentation was on view from 2004 to 2015 in the Netherlands Open Air Museum in Arnhem, where a worldwide overview of the tobacco pipe was given. By contributing to exhibitions of others, the museum serves an educational purpose and also gains greater brand awareness.

An extensive digitization project from 2008 onwards has ensured that all data files of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum are available in a central database. In a single content management system, data about the objects in the collections, the makers, the literature, archive data and other documentation are brought together and mutually linked. Naturally, this far-reaching information structure is not only at the service of the curator, but also plays a role for the public and for research by third parties. The collection database and library are accessible on the website www.pipemuseum.nl. The other files will follow in the future.

Research and Information

Over the decades, the Amsterdam Pipe Museum has become the leading knowledge centre in the field of historic smoking and the tobacco pipe. Years of studies into pipes excavated from the Dutch soil gave the museum an expert position in the archaeological world. Continuing research has spawned publications on other European smoking pipes and even ethnographic topics. The Dutch research resulted in two standard works published by the museum itself, the Handbook about the Dutch clay pipe and the extensive Book on Pipe Marks. Curator Don Duco also produced more than two hundred articles. To disseminate the expertise, studies in our field are still published on this website and elsewhere.

The expertise of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum is used at home and abroad because the curator is regularly asked for advice. It mainly concerns determinations of archaeological finds or historical questions about the smoking culture worldwide. Requests come from museums, universities, archaeological services or private individuals. This service is also important for the museum because it feeds its own knowledge. In addition, it provides greater awareness for the museum collection. This certainly applies to a special form of information provision to the film industry who come to us for advice on the smoking implements they should use in their film productions.

Through the further publication of the collection and the launch of the results on the website www.pipemuseum.nl, the disclosure of research of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum will be continued. In addition to 'analogue' research on the basis of the objects, new possibilities will arise because archives elsewhere in the world are digitally made accessible. Naturally, the aim is to collaborate with other researchers, as has happened in the past. In the field of archaeology in particular, contacts extend worldwide, from St. Petersburg to New York.

The Public

The fame of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum among the general public has already been established in the years 1980-1990, when the museum was still housed in Leiden as a Pijpenkabinet. The ongoing anti-tobacco campaigns since the last decade of the 20th century have made it more difficult to bring the cultural and historical importance of the pipe collection to the attention of press and public.

Since 2001, the museum has reopened at an attractive location in the centre of Amsterdam, on the Prinsengracht between Leidseplein and the Rijksmuseum. The permanent presentation in the historic ambiance of an Amsterdam canal house includes more than 2000 objects. In combination with the historic interior of the building, the permanent exhibition is extra attractive for visitors. This is evident from the high proportion of foreign visitors from all over the world.

Virtual visitors are of great importance and this will only increase. The website of the Amsterdam Pipe Museum is well suited to international tourism, which can find the museum with all the obvious keywords. Here too we see an overrepresentation of foreign visitors.

Since 2013, extra attention is paid to visibility, PR and visitor satisfaction. For example, the museum is affiliated with both the National Museum Card and the IAmsterdam Card. Positive reactions and reviews are seen on our own page on Tripadvisor and the French-speaking Petit-Futé. The museum regularly broadcasts news about activities and acquisitions via Facebook.

Business operations

The museum shop with the name Amsterdam Pipe Shop generates an important part of the income for the Amsterdam Pipe Museum. Nevertheless, it is very important that the turnover increases even further in order to be able to guarantee a stable financial basis for the museum. This will be achieved by further expanding the assortment and further focussing on our specialism. Optimal service and thorough information form an indispensable basis for customer confidence and for growth of turnover. The uniqueness of the museum shop is that in addition to a specialized article, the customer gets correct, current and historical info about that product.

A newly developed sales strategy is internet sales. A special webshop with the option to order a select number of articles specifically aimed at the pipe smoker is linked to this website. Look at pipeshop.nl. As an extra, this activity provides an additional publicity impulse for the museum.

For optimal exploitation it proved useful to appoint the position of director at the Foundation: someone who works at an operational level in the areas of business management, finance, private funding and cultural entrepreneurship. In 2013 it was possible to appoint such a director. With a completed study Cultural Entrepreneurship and extensive experience, she was able to give an extra impulse to publicity and promotion. The Amsterdam Pipe Museum turned out to be a favourable springboard to another function in the cultural world, which is why the director stayed on for only a year. This vacancy has now been filled internally, albeit unpaid.