Innovative thinking nets fresh income streams and cuts costs

A reduction in Government funding in 2011-12 has required the Group to get creative to generate new income and cut costs.

Against a backdrop of economic uncertainty, museums must pursue funds with vigour to meet the pressing demand from an enthusiastic public, and reduced Grant in Aid funding from the Government has required the Group to achieve serious cost savings and generate fresh income streams.

Innovative sources of income this year arose from the popular Science Museum Live On Tour! theatre tour; an enhanced on-site welcome which has significantly increased visitor giving and the surprise success of the Red Arrows flight simulator.

Visitors try out the Red Arrows flight simulator at the Science Museum

Commercial initiative also landed a technology first for the Science Museum: an augmented reality app in which @MrJamesMay becomes your tour guide.

The group has also continued to cut costs and reduce energy consumption, and in London is committed to the Carbon Reduction Masterplan for the 1851 Estate.

Raising our profile is the all-important challenge for the Development team, so it is a source of great satisfaction that the Science Museum was awarded £6 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards our flagship Making Modern Communications gallery. Director Ian Blatchford says: “This project represents a step change, both in terms of gallery development and as a first step in the delivery of the masterplan.”

Other generous donations of £500,000 from the Garfield Weston Foundation and an initial £1 million from Google signal the beginnings of a stream of funds needed to complete this important contemporary gallery. We also owe thanks to Virgin Media for sponsoring three Group projects; to Mastercard for supporting Lates, and to Johnson Mathhey for extended Science Nights.

Staff preparing for a Lates event at the Science Museum

Nevertheless, Blatchford reflects on a distinctly British phenomenon: “Even though we think we’ve lived through ten good years of corporate philanthropy, the number of individual donors is depressingly tiny in the UK. One is acutely aware of this in London where so many people have considerable personal wealth. I say to potential donors: The most urgent priority is to restore the status of science and industry. You really ought to be part of our regeneration. I want to get to the point where people will feel anxious if they’re not part of the SMG’s regeneration. There are plenty of rewards for them in a partnership with us.”