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Opening a Museum


As a kid, you may have loved museums. Maybe you have fond memories of touring museums with your family--looking at toys from 1915, seeing the way the human brain works, or crawling inside a life-size igloo. You may have hated museums as a kid, and only recently developed your appreciation for what they offer. Museums, especially small ones, are a way for visitors to step into the past, and that magical encasement of bygone eras might get your heart beating a little faster. You love museums, and you’d love to open one.

If you, or a group you’re with, is interested in opening your own museum, you have a complicated road ahead of you. It’s hard to get a museum up and running, and it’s hard to turn a profit, especially in a remote area. You may, however, be the owner of a historical home, or a member of a town with incredible history--and a museum belongs there. If you want to get started with opening a museum, check out this list of steps to get started.

Understand the Legal Requirements
Opening a museum is not an easy task. One of the most brain-splitting jobs you’ll face is all the legal requirements. You’ll need to file articles of incorporation, obtain an employer identification number, file for tax-empty status with the IRS, and file for state and local exemptions. To understand all of the legal requirements opening a museum calls for, go here.

Know Your Museum Identity
Every museum is different. From a historical house that’s only open a few days each month, to an interactive museum that’s great for hands-on learning and field trips, you’ll need to decide what kind of museum you’re going to be. If the draw for your museum will be small, you’ll want to open on a tiny budget. If you have school-draw, and field trips could be scheduled in your museum, you’ll want to be open in the mornings and afternoons during the week. The type of traveler you’ll attract will help determine your budget, your hours, and the way you style your exhibits.

Save Money

One of the best ways to succeed as a museum is to become sustainable. You’ll want to make sure you can stay open (let alone turn a profit.) Are you near a community who might donate towards the historical cause? Do you have volunteers willing to lead tours or work the front desk? There are quite a few ways you can save money as you work towards opening your museum. You can even get a tour app developer to create a smartphone tour of your establishment, reducing the need for tour guides. With every step as you plan your museum, make sure you’re financially prepared. A good idea would be to contact an accounting and consulting firm and make sure your financial figures are looking good. Once you know you’re in good shape to get started, you can begin. Within a year or two, your museum will be open, and you can finally realize your dream.


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