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Crowdfunding - what's possible?

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 14 Mar 2013

Veronica Mars, the Tesla Museum and Eric the pliosaur. Is crowdfunding the way of the future for museums?

Skeleton of a small pliosaur: 'Eric'

 © Australian Museum

We have been discussing the possibilities of crowdfunding for museums on-and-off over the past few months, but my interest was re-ignited today when alerted (via Jen) to the Veronica Mars Movie crowdfinding project on Kickstarter that has now (as at the time of this post) raised over 2 million dollars. In one day!

The impressive thing about this campaign is the way it has been pitched to fans, the options available for different price points and their use of Twitter to get the word out.

Last year, museumgeek posted about the Tesla Museum's successful crowdfunding efforts, asking:

"... can a project built on hype and excitement, which invites emotional and economic investment (some of it significant) from people all over the world, continue to hold attention, to live up to its own build up? Or is there an inevitable backlash when projects change, adapt, or even fail?"

What the Veronica Mars example says to me is that, for museums, the answer is "yes" when based on a solid understanding of, and respect for, the audience coupled with a sales pitch that is fan-centric, led by passionate individuals willing to engage with fans backed by a solid social media strategy.

Also note: the attached image is of "Eric" the opalised pliosaur, a great example of an early museum crowdfunding project. More is outlined in an io9 blog post by Keith Veronese:

"To prevent pieces of Eric from becoming parts of charm bracelets across the world, Quantum, a beloved weekly science television series in Australia, championed the plight of Eric. Quantum launched the 'Save Eric' campaign, with donations from corporate sponsors and fundraising efforts led by Australian schoolchildren amounting to over $450,000. With the enormous donation, the Australian Museum successfully purchased the pliosaur from Londonish [the owner] in 1993."

I wonder about how a museum crowdfunding campaign, such as Eric, would play out today? Veronica Mars  anyone?