Museums use licensing to showcase their exhibits and generate revenues.

museumlicensing Looking for a well-known, classic IP brand to license? Consider a visit to your local museum. Cezanne, Van Gogh, Renoir, are just a few of the museum “brands” you’ll find. In museum retail shops and outside retail stores, a number of these artist icons are on a variety of products including books, apparel, reproductions, gift items, greeting cars, beach towels, plates and more.

The licensing program depends on the show and the type of products best suited for the art collection. Licensing focuses on maintaining the design and artwork integrity. Licensing programs typically focus on either a “period” or “inspired by” collection for an exhibit that includes logos, trademarks and product designs.

Some popular exhibits can develop large licensing programs. For example, the Art Institute of Chicago created a Van Gogh/Gauguin licensing program based on the collection that included several hundred products in 50 different categories. The Philadelphia Museum of Art developed a line of Cezanne products that were featured on QVC. The show grossed over $7 million and included products such as framed reproductions and scarves.

One of the biggest licensing programs is The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In 2012, it generated over $70 million in licensed merchandise, Met branded products, images of its art and artifacts, books and products it sells in gift shops and on-line. Other museums doing similar programs include the Boston Museum of Fine Art and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. There are many smaller “niche” and regional museums offering similar types of licensing opportunities such as the Negro Baseball Museum (legacy of black baseball) and the Museum of New Mexico (Native American artifacts).

The global digital environment is creating new and exciting licensing opportunities for museum exhibits. A big reason is the “Experience Economy”. This is especially true where the museum uses new media and technology to communicate with their audience about their collections. The American Museum of Natural History (scientific collections)produces a variety of these experiences, ranging from inside the brain to the worlds largest dinosaurs.

Today, museums not only educate but they entertain and offer an “historic” experience for the consumer. Museums, in effect, are inventors and innovators of these experiences. It attracts consumers to the “inspired by” products with the museum “seal of approval”, giving them a tangible piece of the exhibit experience.

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