Today many museums place a greater emphasis on donors than on visitors or guests. When curating their show, the students should consider how works are grouped together as well as the progression through an exhibit that a visitor should take. Over and over again, at museums, I have to ask, “Where is the nearest bookstore?” Museums draw among the most educated customers of any industry, yet many do not respect those customers. The more your museum and your website appear on the internet, the better you will be indexed and ranked. I used to be frustrated by students asking about lunch 15 minutes after entering a museum. Why should I have to wait until I am done with my visit? What’s special about it? One responder of the Museum Survey mentioned these when asked what might interest them to visit more: “Extended evening hours, more events like … We also live in a world where the public is daily offered immersive, engaging experiences, whether at stores like Nordstrom and Whole Foods Market, at Build-a-Bear and Apple stores, in Puzzle and Panic rooms, at SXSW and Maker Faires, and in experiences like iFly and TopGolf. The museum business has boomed. Walking around looking at stuff might seem like a low-impact endeavor, but dealing with the visual demand of art takes focus and energy. At the other extreme, I have been rushed out of museums before closing time as they set up for private parties, despite paying over $20 for admission. The government could possibly make museum visits part of compulsory education for school children. How to Increase Museum Attendance. Your collection may be highly focussed but your café, conference and outdoor spaces can play host to all sorts of community groups that don’t share your obvious interests. To get your students started, you might want them to do research from the "inside out;" in other words, starting with values that they hold dear and then finding art works that resonate with them. As I studied the museum industry, I realized it was really weak in human development in the sense that the number two person in a museum must wait for her boss to move on, or she must move on herself in order to personally grow. Another way museums like the Met increase attendance is by creating exhibits… Historian Neil Harris points out that from about 1880 through 1940, Americans discovered new ideas in three places: museums, department stores, and world’s fairs. What if they had to summarize the art through a haiku and recite it in front of the artwork itself? In my experience as an entrepreneur, I generally believe I should be able to deliver twice the quality at half the price of established organizations by rethinking things from scratch. In the museum industry, I have noted two schools of thought, one of which defends the old guard and sees little need for my type of ideas, while there are others who eagerly seek such innovations and improvements. Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash. Positive Externalities of the Museum Market With positive externalities, the government can intervene through financial support. How can museums transform visitors from passive museum audience to active content generator, and from visitor to friend and follower? The CFM cites the all gender restroom signs on display at the... 2. This suggestion is more complex and advanced than the others. Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik via flickr (CC BY 2.0). Might it make more sense to lease rather than own your artifacts, exhibits, and buildings? Sometimes you go to a museum and you get inspired and want to create an exhibit of your own...Or you might have some interesting artifacts you might want to display. Some of the best truly interactive exhibits I have seen did not have a computer in sight – they were entirely powered by Post-It notes and Bic pens! Run Patron Programs. When I began to think of creating a new museum, I started listing all the different subjects where few if any museums exist: the museum of the home, of the office, of weather, of the brain, of religion, of advertising and graphic arts, of education, or travel, and on and on. What is the most famous museum in your country? They swam all around the glass tube I walked through. This exercise also helps both teachers and students understand that talking about art does not require a specialized language. I have seen some progress since I first studied the industry ten years ago, but in today’s era of big data, the opportunities to learn from the numbers and other more qualitative inputs are greater than ever. Consider museum websites: if you type into a Google search box the name of most any museum, you find the most common searches come up in a dropdown list from Google. There are exceptions to every complaint I have listed above. Ask them what they think the community needs from a museum. The expectations of the public are higher than ever. When they return to school, the students will find images of their selected artworks online and organize their own virtual show using Power Point or Prezi. Many museums make less eye contact than Wal-Mart, except for sullen security guards. If you want to engage new communities and attract new museum visitors you need to look beyond your obvious allies. Compare the home page of the for-profit International Spy Museum! Here are some ideas for livening up the experience of seeing art in person. Look at the PBS and other TV specials which many would have thought “that does not sound interesting.”  Not until you put it into the hands and cameras of Ken or Ric Burns! There are several components to convenience, including location (be near your competitors; cluster museums into districts), parking, hours (many museums close at 5PM, just when people have free time), and sight-lines (in one popular music museum, every exhibit label was at ankle level, impossible to see when crowded). One was a retired centrifugal amusement park ride, where you stand up and spin around in a circle, and the other was a pickup truck on a platform at the other end of a giant lever – even kids could pull the rope that dangled from one end, lifting the pickup truck on the other end into the air. Edutopia® and Lucas Education Research™ are trademarks or registered trademarks of the George Lucas Educational Foundation in the U.S. and other countries. Starting a new museum is a complex undertaking with serious fiduciary and legal obligations. In St. Louis, the late artist Bob Cassilly opened the City Museum in 1997. The exhibit staff member who hosted me expressed frustration. VTS encourages students to analyze work based solely on what they see before them. The Guggenheim and the Smithsonian have both dabbled with co-branding in multiple facilities with mixed success. Collect the names of teachers, politicians, city leaders, and others interested in working with you, and take their recommendations to the drawing board. In this era of easy payments and ordering, there should be a way to select items as I walk through. Not every student has a smart phone, but making it an option for documenting their experience by taking photos (check with museum rules pertaining to their permanent collections and special exhibits), typing notes and sharing it with their classmates via social networks might be a way for making the experience fun. How many times have you visited that museum? But conserving and building a collection is expensive and inevitably requires public support. Winning Exhibitions: Identifying What Works and Where You Can Improve Go With the Flow. Chains also reduce costs dramatically – whether it be by having one buyer select all the books for 10 or 100 stores, or by the fact that if you make two copies of an exhibit at the same time, the cost of the second one should be a fraction of the cost of the first one.

how to improve a museum

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