I blogged in April last year on the subject of building museum revenue and cited the Dallas Museum of Art's success in using qualitative visitor surveys to identify four types of visitor clusters, namely: Observers, Participants, Independents and Enthusiasts. The innovative strategies that have been implemented as a result of the surveys has resulted in a 100% increase in attendance, and is about to be published by the DMA with Yale University Press under the title Ignite the Power of Art; Advancing visitor engagement in Museum Experiences.
So what are these strategies?
• Establishment of the DMA's Center for Creative Connections, which encourages visitors to explore their own creativity and introduce them to new ways of experiencing art, ranging from filmmaking workshops to performance activities
• Introducing an Interactive exhibitions based program, by including immersive soundscapes with appropriate exhibitions, adding performances, and artists' talks within a dedicated space within the galleries, and including musical interludes
• Using Smartphone tours, cleverly marketed under the smARTphone label. This is an increasing part of the art museum scene, and DMA have taken to it wholeheartedly to provide access to supplemental information about the works. They cite examples as watching a video of Jackson Pollock painting whilst standing in front of one of his artworks, listening to excerpts from Ovid's Metamorphoses that inspired Jacques-Louis David's 1722 painting Apollo and the Diana attacking the children of Niobe, and discovering the meaning of Aramaic inscriptions that appear in a Roman mosaic.
• Developing public programs, especially after hours tours, during which there are multi-disciplinary events and performances. I particularly like the idea of 'insomniac tours' led by DMA's director Bonnie Pitman, and bedtime stories for the younger visitors.
I am particularly interested in where smartphone use is going in museum and gallery interpretation and will be blogging more about this shortly. Meanwhile the lessons from DMA's success are surely a) get to know your audience well and b) tailor your offering (within reason) to what they want, remembering that it will not be one size fits all.
25 years ... and 25 iconic projects
5 years ago