If museums are all about connecting people with static exhibits, the general response might be a collective yawn. But what if these cultural institutions change their approach to reach a wider audience? The Guardian Culture Professionals Network has begun to explore marketing alternatives for museums.
A recent discussion by members of the Arts Council based in Great Britain explored some of the problems faced by museums today. Most museums are stuck in a one-way communication of information to visitors. In addition, museums operate on limited hours and effectively close themselves off from a large potential audience – working professionals. Another challenge for museums is that some consumers avoid them because of ‘intellectual or social barriers.”
Potential solutions proposed during the course of this discussion often involved technology. Some experts believe that visitors would enjoy being able to use their digital devices into museums and receive customized or personalized content as they explore the exhibits that most appeal to them. Museums may also lend out these devices for visitors who do not own smartphones so that they can enjoy an interactive experience.
The release of apps seems a logical approach for museums when promoting new exhibits or special programs. While apps may be expensive for smaller museums to develop, many agree that social media is too important to ignore. To increase loyalty with an audience that may be inclined to donate to museums, experts also suggest that expanded weekend or evening hours and promotions of special cultural programs during these hours is an important strategy.
Though this information originates in Great Britain, U.S.-based museums likely face similar challenges and may begin exploring new ways to promote themselves and their programs and exhibits.[Source: Caines, Matthew. Museums of the Future. Guardian.co.uk. 17 May 2012. Web. 5 Jun. 2012]