Museums aim to attract “social partners” based on sustainability

The Museon-Omniversum museum hopes companies will invest €5,000 a year. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Two museums in the Netherlands have begun a search for investors to become “social shareholders” as an alternative to traditional corporate sponsorship.

Both the Museon-Omniversum museum in The Hague and the Discovery Museum in Kerkrade recently had their social impact evaluated by the research agency Maex.

Maex, an Amsterdam-based project which stands for “social AEX”, aims to measure the financial benefit of working towards the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals, which range from eliminating poverty to securing “decent work and economic growth” and taking action to mitigate climate change.

The museums hope to attract partners that want to boost the “social” aspect of their environmental, social and governance targets, which have become key indicators of corporate performance.

Museon-Omniversum had a total “social handprint” of €45 million in 2022, according to Maex, which represents a strong return on its annual budget of €10 million. It hopes to secure contracts with partners who are willing to contribute €5,000 a year for a maximum of three years to help achieve its goals.

Commercial director Iris van der Akker told that the value of museums was hard to quantify in financial terms.

“Subsidised cultural institutions are frequently judged on how many visitors they get through the door,” she said. “Not on the smile of a child who goes inside for the first time, the number of interns or the solar panels on the roof whose income we share with the neighbourhood”.

The Discovery Museum’s impact value was measured at €9.7 million in 2022 but is expected to grow to around €12 million when its performance in 2023 is measured, based on a budget of €7 million.

The museum in Limburg has already found seven partners willing to become “social shareholders”, investing €10,000 over four years, and hopes to raise the number to 15 this year.

One of the companies is Volta NXT, a local heating company that specialises in energy management and sustainability. “This matches our aim of integrating sustainability further into our DNA very well,” commercial director Maurice Benneker told FD.

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