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Story 06: The Big Move

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Sidebar - The Year-One Benchmark

Written by Mike Spock and Jonathan Hyde

Phyl O'Connell, the mangers, and board had worked for years fine-tuning our downtown operating budgets to make sure we would not be over-optimistic in our attendance—and therefore in our income—projections. Now it was Jonathan Hyde's turn, as the person in charge of filling the museum after it opened, to become comfortable with those projections.

...we analyzed other museums that had either done major expansions or had moved....The first year of that expansional move established the benchmark, and we should expect museum attendance to sort of trail off somewhat and then pick back up simply because you can't sustain that intense level of marketing and public relations forever....I was very aware that that first year would establish for a long period of time a visitation benchmark for the museum. And of course, the museum's economic model bases a lot of the financial budgeting around visitation.

...I have these two numbers embedded...in my brain—from 170,000 visitors in Jamaica Plain to half a million visitors in Museum Wharf. That number was established before I came....

The goal wasn't coming out of thin air. It was based on a lot of analysis before Jonathan had to deal with it.

...When I saw that—big gulp. Are you kidding me? But I decided that questioning it wasn't going to be productive, that it was better to just do my utmost to get there....

So in terms of that benchmark, my crude goal was to get every man, woman, child, dog and cat through the place in the first year. That was clearly the mission. We actually missed it, as I remember, by a day. It was a year and a day when we got the 500,000.

Next: Sidebar-What We Lost Moving from Jamaica Plain