This is another post on Communicating the Museum to announce this year's theme:
'The Museum and You
Creating Multiple Adventures for Each Visitor'
Behind this title is a simple question: What happens when vistors storm past the doors of a museum? In other terms, what type of experience do they get to enjoy (or not) and what keeps them coming back for more?
We have consistently developped the idea that a museum brand is so much more than just four walls: online and printed publishing, events outside the museums, touring exhibitions, partnerships and retail are all part of the message an institution sends. To keep a clear identity for a museum while developping new branches can actually represent a significant challenge in itself.
While this is key in the development of cultural institutions today, they do remain physical places with a given identity and personality.
And inside the walls, as decades have passed by, visitors have been looking for more diverse experiences that replicate what they encounter in other meeting places. No museum is an island, museums are platforms.
They are not for visitors to stand in awe and abide by vertical types of relations involving indisputable authority of scholars over the rest of the common folks anymore though this is quite a dated and simplistic assumption already. As the concept of communities and shared leadership are growing reference values in our society, there cannot be a discrepancy between how people interact in the real world and how they mirror these deep-set trends within an institution.
What type of richness are museums best fit to bring us: visual, social, technological, educational? How does one articulate all of these to create a moment for each and everyone as well as for groups and communities?
Museums have developed their offers way beyond the realm of art for art's sake: they are educational places, social places and in short communities in their own right. But they have also become businesses and have to seriously think about what they have to offer to their visitors who are also customers. How do you improve access and services to not disrupt visiting experience but to magnify it?
Finally how does team work help to produce a global experience? In recent years, museums have experienced more holistic approaches to the way they work, with cross department projects as opposed to a silo model where everyone in the marketing department will think about marketing, and so on and so forth.
Speaking about which, the conference will have -as announced- a special format for professionals within the museum. It is not strictly reserved to people working on the web, but the level in presentations will qualify the event as quite specialised. During this session, we will try to achieve two goals which we think are key:
>> To provide a platform for specialists to discuss their own problems in a more official way
>> To articulate these practices with the concerns of other departments within the museum, especially marketing and communication, so that a set of best practices can be established to embrace a more holistic attitude between services.
Note: This project is still underway as to its format and duration, place etc. We are thinking about how it should look like to fulfill our objectives and are open to suggestions.
Quite an ambitious and diverse programme on the whole then. If you feel you can relate to some of these issues, want to exchange or present, let us know so that we can discuss.
Warning: this is NOT a conference on augmented reality, we also want to speak about seemingly less glamourous subjects like access and retail so we are waiting for your feedback on everything a museum has to offer.
(Image: Warm Up at MoMA PS1)