Date of Award

Spring 5-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA Museum Professions


Communication and the Arts


Petra Chu, Ph.D.


Crowdfunding, Fundraising, Museums, Crowd, Collective Intelligence, Crowdsourcing


The successes of websites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have propelled the popularity of crowdfunding and have made it a viable mode of fundraising in museums. Museums have used crowdfunding to raise funds for a wide variety of purposes including purchasing property, construction, disaster recovery, exhibition production, educational programs, and artifact conservation. An increasing number of museums have launched campaigns through various crowdfunding websites, experiencing varying degrees of success. In order to use crowdfunding as an effective fundraising tool, it is important to understand all the factors that contribute to the overall achievement of a crowdfunding campaign.

This thesis describes what crowdfunding is and how museums have used crowdfunding to date. It analyzes the key components that lead to a successful crowdfunding campaign. The thesis highlights three important museum case studies: Tesla Science Center’s Let’s Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum, the Smithsonian’s Freer-Sackler Together We’re One: Crowdfunding our Yoga Exhibit, and Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts’ Pennsylvania Top 10 Endangered Artifacts. The case studies are presented alongside relevant literature on crowdfunding strategies and philanthropic trends. In addition, accountability and ethical concerns regarding crowdfunding are presented and discussed. An appendix provides supplemental resources and best practice standards to effectively guide crowdfunding campaigns within museums.