Museums are changing, and this change is necessitated by the fact that museum attendance is falling. The industry is becoming saturated and as this continues to happen, smaller museums find they cannot keep up with bigger museums. To ensure they do not close their doors, these smaller museums are following trends that differentiate them from others by creating better visitor experiences. Below, we will look at some of the trends that are transforming art museums.

Working with Communities

Smaller museums often have to contend with budget strains. Because of this, they are starting to rely on communities to help them out. These include:

  • Volunteers
  • Local researchers
  • Community groups, and more

The value these groups provide, however, extends far beyond helping the museums save some money. When communities come together to help a museum:

  • They often feel like they own the space, which makes it more likely that they will visit the museum
  • They can help with the cataloging and tagging of items found in their localities and which the museum would like to display. This makes for far more accurate records than if the museums relied on other sources to catalog and tag the items they display.

Treating the Museum Like a Business

There are three main challenges that museums face:

  • Getting better audience engagement
  • Keeping a delicate balance between donors and the public
  • Addressing the changing demographic

When we look at these three challenges, we can start to view museums as businesses and not just recreational spaces. For example, every business should strive for better customer engagement if they want their customers to enter their sales funnels. Businesses must also find a balance between their investors and customers as well as address the different demographics they cater to. These similarities between museums and other business are what makes directors think of museums like businesses.

As more and more curators and directors treat art museums like businesses, they start to adopt strategies that other businesses use. For example, they may use supply chain management principles to ensure they always have the products(art) people want to see. In addition to ensuring art museums have products to display, supply chain management can help art museum directors in other ways. Click here to learn what the other benefits of using supply management principles are.

Creating Interactive and Interpretive Spaces and Experiences

Many people no longer want to view and experience art the way it has always been done. This means they do not want to go to a museum or art exhibition, view the products and go home; they want to interact with the art, and in some cases, become part of the art. Doing this makes for a much more personalized experience.

One good example is the Museum of Photographic Arts that used a camera to project visitors’ faces on a screen. These faces were used to create a mosaic of people from around the word the museum had interviewed. This art was alive, which made for a better experience for those who were there.

Making art interactive and interpretive in this way:

  • Helps people feel like they are part of the art
  • Attracts people to exhibits that do it and
  • Helps grow audiences

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence can be used to get information faster which means increased competition in the art space as well as new opportunities.

Connecting data from all the different catalogs and exhibitions will help museums:

  • Map human knowledge
  • Make us better informed
  • Help us discover new truths

AI can also help museums and art exhibitions tag and categorize the collections they have. This can be through pattern recognition or style recognition to place the collections into distinct classes. In some cases, AI has been found to do a better job than humans at cataloging and categorizing art collections.

AI can also help with the authentication of artwork to ensure it is original and not a forged piece.

Those opposed to the use of AI in this way argue that it can be influenced by:

  • Bias
  • Discrimination

This is because AI uses the information that is fed to it to do its job. Because of this, if the data is flawed in any way, so will the result that comes out of this process.

Because of this, researchers, professionals and curators do not have to worry because it will be a very long time before AI can replace them.

Voice Command

Many of us understand that we can use our voices to control different devices, but voice commands are also being used in the word of art. Voice commands are being used to:

  • Retrieve an object’s data
  • Retrieve pertinent records
  • Sort art

Voice commands are not only useful for those who work in the museums, but it can also be useful to visitors. For example, museums can let visitors access more information about collections and art items using a device like the Amazon Echo. This would be in a bid to help visually-impaired people experience art as other people would.

Virtual Reality

Museums are a good place to demonstrate the capabilities of VR technology. Virtual reality can help museums create interactive art that lets visitors get much more immersed in their experiences. For example, it can be used to take people on a virtual tour of the dinosaur era or let people walk virtually on the great wall of china.

Virtual reality can also help us:

  • Reduce the cost of traveling to visit museums. If a museum would require that you take a plane to go see its exhibitions, it can help you have the same experience as you would inside the museum by planning a virtual exhibition
  • Protect areas that have been destroyed because of a large number of tourists visiting these areas

Museums can create these experiences by charging a fee to go on the tours and everybody wins in this case. Museums can also use virtual reality to create a custom experience so that everyone who visits the museum has a different experience from everybody else.

If an exhibit uses a lot of story-telling elements, it could also use virtual reality to bring those stories to life. For example, you could visit the world of a famous painter virtually while listening to their biography.

Security

Information and data have revolutionized how we experience almost everything. But in the museum world, there has to be a balance between openness and security. Openness helps in two ways:

  • It helps people share data
  • It helps people make new discoveries through the use of crowdsourcing

At the center of all of this is a system that holds all this data. As with any other system, this system can be attacked by malicious third parties and this is why security should be a priority for every museum or exhibit that uses such systems.

Remember that the more data a system holds and opens up to the public, the higher the chances of it being attacked. This is why most museums use APIs to send data to the people who need it. That way, no one has direct access to the system itself.

Because museums also collect personal data to personalize visitors’ experiences, there is the need to look into these systems to ensure they are as safe as possible.

Telling a Brand Story

To build connections with visitors, museums can tell their brand story. This brand story has to change and evolve as the audience does the same. A good brand story can help people understand what the museum stands for and therefore be more likely to come to visit.

For younger people, the brand story can help show them that a museum is for them and not just for other people. A brand story can help show people the type of experience they will have in the museum which will help entice more people to visit.

Try Not to Be Sucked In

Because there are so many different trends, you might feel like your museum is losing out by not following or implementing all of them. This is a bad way to do things because trends will always appear, often before the one you are on dies out. Keeping up with trends can also be very expensive. For example, if you do not have the funds to implement virtual reality, try to create other experiences because virtual reality might be out of your budget.

Another reason to not follow all the trends is because they can waste your time. Trends come and go very fast and you might find yourself in an endless loop where you are constantly changing your museum to conform to the latest trends.

The best thing to do is to sit down and list all the trends that interest you. Next, find ones that can be easily implemented in your museum without taking too long and without having to spend a fortune. Lean towards trends that are likely to benefit your museum for the long term.

There are lots of trends emerging that can help differentiate one museum from another. If museums follow the right trends, they can improve visitor satisfaction and thereby see their visitor numbers increase.