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Live company museums

A handful of pages presents the interpretative outline, the accomplishments and the guidelines of one of the most excellent tools to understand the culture of Italian manufacturing

A company can be told. This assumption has now become part and parcel of the cultural heritage of a significant portion of Italian management and entrepreneurship. It is nevertheless necessary to continue along the road of discovery and in-depth investigation into the meaning of the tale of a company and of the various tools used to tell it. It is therefore necessary better to understand and learn from what has already been done. This is the case with company museums: material representations of a company’s past, but also, when interpreted correctly, of the meaning of the presence of a factory in a specific location.

To have a useful overview of what has already been done, read “Il museo d’impresa: rassegna della letteratura” (The company museum: review of literature) by Andrea Quintiliani.

It is a clear and spot-on analysis of the main studies published in recent years on the topic of company museums, which has the benefit of outlining as early as the introductory lines how these activities have changed. “The company museum – Quintiliani in fact writes -, is configured as a multi-purpose marketing tool capable of activating and raising awareness as to the value systems which touch on the widest sphere of recognisability and identity of a corporate brand”. The author does point out the flaw that has accompanied many “interpretations” of company museums up until now: their almost sole use as commercial tools.

The leap in quality that needs to be taken, according to Quintiliani, is in fact this: to move company museums on from being mere marketing tools to something different and more complex. “These facilities are an expression of the company’s (social) orientation in satisfying the legitimate expectations of the stakeholders (employees and the local territory/community first and foremost)”. But that’s not all, because again according to Quintiliani the “company museum plays an additional function in valuing the cultural heritage of a territory, as it testifies to the abilities, skills, resources, habits and traditions which have distinguished a specific area of the territory (local community). It follows that the communicative model of the company museum breaks free from the logic of corporate marketing to take on a superior value as it is capable of re-evoking a collective development process that does not only concern the company but that embraces an entire community; hence, acting as a cultural entity and complementary tool to traditional museums in the representation of cultural and economic progress in a given territory”.

Hence the analysis of the situation of the main company museums (and collateral activities) found in Italy as well as the outline of the objectives which this kind of initiative can set themselves vis-à-vis corporate management.  Then the author provides guidelines for the creation and valuing of corporate culture through museums.

Quintiliani writes in conclusion of his work that must absolutely be read: “A company capable of listening to and interpreting its surrounding territory is one which wisely combines the obligations of economic profitability with the expectations – also immaterial – of the reference territory”.

Il museo d’impresa: rassegna della letteratura (The company museum: review of literature)

Andrea Quintiliani (Università Telematica Pegaso, Naples)

XXVII Annual Convention on Synergies, Heritage, management and companies: what are the synergies? – Università degli Studi del Molise, Termoli facility

Sinergie Journal, 2016

The company museum: review of literature