Private Events, Public Spaces: Why Guests Choose Museums as Hosting Sites, A Case Study at the Museum of Flight
Cima, Jessica L.
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Abstract The purpose of this thesis is to determine why guests choose museums as hosting sites for their private events. A brief survey of Seattle museum websites reveals that many area institutions offer private event rentals; however, each museum advertises its event program differently, some more effectively than others. The diversity of approaches to museums' special event programs exemplifies a lack of available resources and manuals specifically designed to address private events in non-profit settings. In response to the dearth of scholarly work in this field, this study used a three-pronged approach to discover what determined guests' choices to hold special events in museums. Using a case study at the Museum of Flight, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis of those interviews, this thesis examined a variety of motivating factors (i.e. Advertising, Customer Service, Donor Relationships, Educational Programming, Event Alignment with the Museum's Mission, Operational and Logistical Capabilities, Personal Alignment with Museum's Mission, Repeat Business, Underwriting, and Volunteer Relationships) through five event types (i.e. Birthday Parties, Meetings and Training Seminars, Nonprofit Fundraisers, Receptions and Dinners, and Weddings). This three-pronged methodology, case study, interviews, and analysis, found that the majority of participant's choices were determined by the given museum's operational and logistical capabilities, or by the level of customer service provided by the host institution, and their emotional connection to the institution.
- Museology