Museum income generation, Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum

Museum Marketing Action PlanClient: Somerset County Council
The Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum is home to one of the largest collections of steam engines and pumps, developed by the Westonzoyland Engine Trust.  The main pumping station is Grade II* listed. The museum hosts a number of steaming days and popular events and the venue can be hired as a film location.   The museum also incorporates a narrow gauge railway and there is a retail and catering offer.

Museums are facing a challenging future with cuts to core funding streams, loss of experienced and highly skilled staff and volunteers and changing expectations of visitors.   Planning Solutions was commissioned to work with Westonzoyland Pumping Station Museum to identify and evaluate approaches to increasing visitor numbers, enhancing the museum visitor experience and increasing income generation without impacting on the qualities that make the museum a special place to visit.

Our work included: A site visit and assessment of the visitor experience; consultation stakeholders; assessment of visitor numbers and trends; analysis of the market place; review of operational data including visitor income and cost trends, and; identifying key income generating opportunities to help ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the Museum. A development action plan was prepared, which set out a clear number of actions, categorised under three thematic areas: product development and the visitor experience, operational and financial considerations and marketing initiatives to broaden appeal and engage with new audiences.  Individual actions were prioritised and the associated capital costs were identified.

A key element of our work assessed opportunities in respect of income generation, to help ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the Museum. As part of this project we also reviewed six other museums across Somerset along with an archive centre.   From this emerged a number of common actions which were applicable to two or more of the participating museums.  These included: Sharing skills, resources and professional support; soint marketing initiatives, including customer research; joint buying and merchandising guides; vVolunteer management, organisation and recruitment alongside  membership initiatives. We also managed a small grant fund to help pay for some project based initiatives. A key output was organising a ‘Museum Summit’ for participating sites to share our findings and key lessons from benchmarked examples of best practice.

How can we help?
If you manage a museum or heritage centre or archive and are seeking ways to identify and evaluate future opportunities, please feel free to call Richard Linington 07866 742628 or email