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Opening Doors with Art Tickets

Art Tickets is the only free ticketing system built by museums, for museums. Run by Art Fund over the last 12 months it has helped over 120 museums safely re-open their doors between lockdowns and generated much needed income. Discover what the team have learnt working with organisations to meet these twin challenges and how Art Tickets is growing, and it will grow with your needs.

Museums and art venues having to close their doors once more nearly a year after the first lockdown came as a devastating blow. It is always darkest before the dawn though, so we look to the future, and plan for the post pandemic world.

Soothing ticketing headaches

Now more than ever, having an online presence and reaching new audiences isn’t just an ambition or an objective, it’s a necessity. And that’s why Art Fund created Art Tickets, the only online ticketing system created by museums for museums. But that’s not enough if arts venues can’t afford it, so we’ve made it completely free to use for all.

When museums were told that they could reopen their doors, as the first lockdown in the UK came to end, some museums had a matter of weeks to implement a plan that would involve getting timed entry and ticketing in place.

Launched in 2018, Art Tickets has proved its worth to the 38 museums already using it by providing a huge boost to reopening plans, and it has since helped more than 120 museums reopen their doors safely to the public. It is easy to use, quick to set up, and works effectively for timed entry, giving every organisation total control of their visitor flow.

When developing Art Tickets, timed ticketing had been an important factor for organisations with small but free-to-enter spaces, so the platform has the functionality in place to manage capacity and visitor flow for safe reopening.  This practical support helps you now only to safely re-open and welcome your visitors back, but also generate income.

Nicky Brier, who leads Business Development at Macclesfield Museums, summed up the relief of many who were facing the future with trepidation: “‘Ticketing has been a major headache. And I now feel as an organisation we can move forward.”

Donations and Data

An important feature of the system is the way it creates an environment that encourages donations when a visitor buys a ticket – as Gift Aid along the way. There is also a ‘donation only’ option, to maximise income while museums are not able to open. So even if your building is closed you can continue to grow your donations and build relationships with your supporter base.

The system is also more than capable of handling tickets for general admission, events and exhibitions – whether those tickets are free or paid for. It has helped museums refine their customer service and reduce front of house administration. It can be used for over the phone and front desk bookings, as well as online, putting an end to the juggling of several lists.

Crucially, Art Tickets also allows museums to get to know their audiences better. The visitor data gathered is hugely valuable for planning post pandemic. As well , an analytics dashboard pulls data from Google Analytics and Art Tickets to give you an oversight to where your visitors are coming from.

Nicola Kalinsky, Director of The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, has been delighted with the both the system, and the information it generates: “Art Tickets is very easy to use – simple and elegant. It’s also providing us with postcode data and mapping info, which we never had previously, and it’s free! And we can sell membership on it! And ask for donations!’”

Looking ahead

This year sees the launch of our partnership with The Audience Agency which will mean that Art Tickets museums will be able to get even more intelligence about their audiences. All Art Tickets users will have access to Audience Finder – the world’s largest cultural database, again, completely for free.

We are continuing to develop the platform to ensure that the technology goes on performing strongly and meeting the needs of museum partners. What’s more, our dedicated Art Tickets team are on hand for one-to-one support to help you get started and answer any questions you have about using the system.

The past 12 months has shown us, no-one can see into the future, but we can start to plan for it. The data from Art Tickets can provide us with some certainties about our audiences that will enable us to do just that. Organisations will open again; people will come back and fill the spaces; and Art Fund are alongside the sector every step of the way. Now is the time to take the first step in planning to welcome visitors’ back safely and with confidence with a team who have the experience to help you.

To find out more about getting Art Tickets for your organisation, book a one-to-one with a dedicated member of the Art Fund or visit for more information.


Merrin Kalinowski is Museum Marketing Relationship Manager at Art Fund

This article, sponsored and contributed by Art Fund, is part of a series sharing information and expertise to support museums and galleries to recover from the pandemic and develop audiences for the future.

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