Museums as Theme Parks - A Possible Marketing Approach?



Museums compete increasingly more with very diverse entertainment providers, such as theme parks, despite the fact that their offer is mainly cultural. Museums have had to be more active and they have had to diversify their offer, in order to be more popular, therefore to better achieve their complex cultural missions. They should be more “market oriented” and aim to develop their programs according with their visitors’ needs and desires, as well as with the evolutions in the contemporary society.  One answer to this challenge would be the controversial theme parkisation of museums. The paper discusses in what extent the market approach of theme parks could be a viable marketing strategy for museums. It underlines several differences and similarities between the marketing approaches of museums and theme parks, in order to better understand how a museum could preserve its cultural functions, while obtaining economic success. Only the latter would allow it to better develop its cultural activity and thus to better serve its visitors and the community.

Author Biography

Alexandra ZBUCHEA, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration

Vice-Dean, Faculty of Management, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA)


Agnew, V. (2002). What can re-enactment tell us about the past?. BBC.

Alsford, S. (1985). The Use of People-mover Systems in Museums and Associated Cultural Institutions. International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, 4(4), 329-344.

Anderson, J. (1992). Living history: stimulating everyday life in living museums. In P.K. Leffler, and J.Brent (Eds.), Public History Reading (pp. 456-470). Malabar: Krieger Publishing Company.

Ault, S. (2002). The new tribal campfire. Culture-based parks and attractions in an era of globalization. In ICOMOS, Strategies for the World's Cultural Heritage. Preservation in a Globalised World: Principles, Practices, Perspectives. Proceedings of the ICOMOS 13th General Assembly and International Symposium (pp. 362-364). Retrieved from

Braun, B.M., and Soskin, M.D. (1999). Theme Park – Competitive Strategies. Annals of Tourism Research, 26(2), 438-442.

Brown, C. (1992). The Museum’s Role in a Multicultural Society. In Patterns in Practice. Selections from the Journal of Museum Education (pp. 3-8). Washington, D.C.: Museum Education Roundtable.

Bryman, A. (1996). Disney and his worlds. New York: Routledge.

Cannon-Brookes, P. (1991). Museums, theme parks and heritage experiences. Museum Management and Curatorship, 10(4), 351-358.

Cass, J. (1995). Cyberspace, Capitalism, and Encoded Criminality: The Iconography of Theme Parks. Post Modern Culture, 5(3), May. Retrieved from

Comis, L. (2014). Re-enactment, living history: rapporti con l’archeologia sperimentale e i Musei Archeologici all’Aperto. In F. Lenzi, and S. Parisini (Eds.), Rivivere e comunicare il passato. Il contributo della rievocazione dell’evo antico al marketing museale e territorial (pp. 7-16). Bologna.

Currie, R.R. (1997). A Pleasure-Tourism Behaviors Framework. Annals of Tourism Research, 24 (4), 884-897.

Cybriwsky, R. (1999). Changing Patterns of Urban Public Space. Observations and assessments from the Tokyo and New York Metropolitan Areas. Cities, 16(4), 223-231.

Edson G., and Dean, D. (2000). The Handbook for Museums. London-New York: Routledge.

EU (2013). Special Eurobarometer 399. Cultural access and participation. Report, November 2013.

Goulding, C. (2000). The Museum Environment and the Visitor Experience. European Journal of Marketing, 34(3/4), 261-278.

Greenberg, S. (2005). The Vital Museum. In S. MacLeud (Ed.), Reshaping Museum Space. Architecture, Design, Exhibitions (pp. 226-237). London-New York: Routledge.

Groot, J. de (2011). Affect and empathy: re-enactment and performance as/ in history. Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice, 15(4), 587-599.

Halewood, C., and Hannam, K. (2001). Viking Heritage Tourism. Authenticity and Commodification. Annals of Tourism Research, 28(3), 565-580.

Handler, R., and Saxton, W. (1988). Dyssimulation: Reflexivity, Narrative, and the Quest for Authenticity in “Living History”. Cultural Anthropology, 3(3), 242-260.

Hughes, C. (1998). Museum Theatre. Communicating with Visitors through Drama. Portsmouth: Heinemann.

King, M.J. (1991). The Theme Park Experience. What Museums Can Learn from Mickey Mouse. The Futurist, November-December.

Koch, G. (2014). Living History als Methode des Historischen Lernens. Sudniedersachsen. Yeitschrift fur regionale Forschung und Heimatpflege, 42(1), 23-30.

Kotler, N. (1999). Delivering Experience: Marketing the Museum’s Full Range of Assets. Museum News, 5/6, 30-39.

Kotler, N., and Kotler, Ph. (1998). Museum Strategy and Marketing. Designing Mission, Building Audiences, Generating Revenue and Resources. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Kotler, N.G., Kotler, Ph., and Kotler, W. (2008). Museum Marketing and Strategy: Designing Missions, Buildings Audiences, Generating Revenues and Resources. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Lea, M. (2015). TIGER IN THE TANK: 3,000 people pack Bovington Tank Museum to see rare vehicle. Dorset ECHO, May 9. Retrieved from

MacDonald, G.F., and Alsford, S. (1995). Museum and theme parks: words in collision?. Museum Management and Curatorship, 14(2), 129-147.

McIntosh, A.J., and Prentice, R.C. (1999). Affirming Authenticity. Consuming Cultural Heritage. Annals of Tourism Research, 26(3), 589-612.

NEMO (2015). Values 4 Museums. Berlin.

Rentschler, R., and Osborne, A. (2007). Marketing Artertainment: Are Museums Jumping on the Brandwagon?. Paper presented to ANZMAC 2007.

Rowley, J. (1999). Measuring total customer experience in museums. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 11(6), 303-308.

Ryan, C., et al. (2010). Theme parks and a structural equation model of determinants of visitor satisfaction - Janfusan Fancyworld, Taiwan. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 16(3), 185–199.

Schiele, B., and Koster, E. (eds) (1998). La Revolution de la Museologie. Vers les Musées du XXI-e Siècle? Lyon: Presses Universitaires de Lyon/Editions Multimondes.

Soerjoatmodjo, G.W.L. (2015). Storytelling, Cultural Heritage and Public Engagement in [email protected] Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 184, 87-94.

Sorensen, C. (2006). Theme Parks and Time Machines. In Peter Vergo (Ed.), The New Museology (pp. 60-73). London: Reaktion Books.

Swarbrooke, J. (2000). Museums: Theme parks of the third millennium. In M. Robinson et al. (Eds.), Tourism and Heritage Relationships (pp. 417-431). Sunderland: Business Education Publishers.

TEA (2013). 2012 Theme Index. Museum Index: The Global Attractions Attendance Report.

Terrell, J. (1991). Disneyland and the Future of Museum Anthropology. American Anthropologist, 93(1), 149-153.

Theodossopoulos, D. (2013). Introduction: Laying Claim to Authenticity: Five Anthropological Dilemmas. Anthropological Quarterly, 86(2), 337-360.

Valdecasas, A.G., Correia, V., and Correas, A.M. (2006). Museums at the crossroad: Contributing to dialogue, curiosity and wonder in natural history museums. Museum Management and Curatorship, 21(1), 32-43.

Wong, K.K.F., and Cheng, P.W.Y. (1999). Strategic theming in theme park marketing. Journal of Vacation Marketing, 5(4), 319-332.

Zbuchea, A., Ivan, L., Bem Neamu, R., and Mastan, B. (2009). Teatrul muzeal: perspective și experiențe [The museum theatre: perspectives and experiences]. Bucharest: Tritonic.

Zbuchea, A. (2014). Marketing muzeal pentru nonmarketeri [Museum marketing for non-marketers]. Bucharest: Tritonic.

Online sources




How to Cite

ZBUCHEA, A. (2015). Museums as Theme Parks - A Possible Marketing Approach?. Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy, 3(3), 483. Retrieved from