by Stephanie Underhill
This semester I am interning with the business office at the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. The Pirate Museum is a collection of over 800 authentic pirate artifacts owned by a private collector. It is a for-profit museum, which means that a primary focus of the museum is to generate profit. This is done mostly through the retail store and museum admission.
The first thing I learned was how pivotal the store is to the overall operations of the museum. I have helped with the retail side of things during my internship, and some of it does get redundant like pricing items and organizing them in the store room for example. I have learned how they locate possible vendors to purchase goods for (from the company reps from existing vendors to going to conventions in the state to meet with new vendors), how they keep up with when to order items so that they don’t run out, and finding out how they determine the prices of items so that they make a profit and so that it is still reasonably priced so that people will purchase them. In the store, you can engage one on one with the customers and get their insights on the museum or get them excited to see what’s inside.
The most exciting part of the internship for me is helping the museum reestablish their Instagram presence. They had an account over a year ago and lost access to it, so I am building an account from nothing (@thepiratemuseum). Being able to plan out posts, stories, and understand the audience the museum wants and how to engage with them has been challenging. I have done lots of research into how businesses use Instagram to market ideas. I have figured out how to connect the Instagram with their other social media accounts, to enable the sharing of information. The Pirate Museum isn’t trying to use the account to sell tickets and promote items in the store, they want to have conversations with the community and their visitors. As the semester goes on, I hope to be able to keep growing and expanding the mission of the Instagram account.
This internship has already taught me how to make profits by understanding customer wants and how to engage with the public using Instagram. It’s fun to work in the archives or give tours, but I think a working knowledge of how a museum runs on the financial and marketing side is extremely important.