This is a review of MuseumNext London 2010
‘The digital revolution is changing audience expectations – museums must respond to this or risk becoming irrelevant’ Jim Richardson, MuseumNext’s founder said at the start of the 2010 conference, held at the Wellcome Collection in central London.
The event attracted international attention with a sell out audience of 170 delegates from 17 countries eager to learn how museums and galleries were adapting to technological change. The opening keynote was delivered by Victor Samra, Digital Media Marketing Manager at Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), one of several American speakers who travelled to the UK for the event.
MoMA were one of the museums to pioneer the use of blogs and social media to engage new and existing audiences. Victor shared their approach and successes at a time when most cultural institutions were only just beginning to think about platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
John Stack from TATE spoke next with a presentation that gave delegates a preview of the organisation’s new web strategy, which was based around the needs and wants of their audiences. John also touched on Collections 2.0, the issues that putting collections online posed for museums in a world where the public increasingly wanted to share content beyond the walls of the museums through social media.
A case study from the Metropolitan Museum of Art formed the next presentation with Elyse Topalian, Vice President for Communications and Arthur Cohen from LaPlacaCohen sharing how they built a marketing strategy with digital media.
‘It’s time we MET’ encouraged members of the public to capture their experience of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art and share these on Flickr. A selection of these real moments were then chosen to be used in the museums advertising campaign. Several delegates at MuseumNext replicated the ‘It’s time we MET’ campaign in their own countries after the conference.
French Museum consultant Diane Drubay shared her perspective on how digital marketing can help museums with two case studies, one for the European Museum Night and the second for the Musse Henner. Diane told MuseumNext delegates to tailor their content for different audiences and to look for opportunities for partnership.
The Managing Director of the Rijksmuseum, Jan Willem Sieburgh talked about changing models for museums, and the concept of the ‘museum as a conversation’. He used a case study of the Damien Hirst exhibition ‘For the Love of God’ as an example of this, and shared ways that the Rijksmuseum had encouraged their visitors to have conversations about the artworks on display.
Rob Stein from Indianapolis Museum of Art shared his collaborative video platform ArtBabble, a tool that brings together 23 museums allowing them to share film which relates to art in a safe environment. This gave audiences more effective tools to navigate content than the major video platforms offered.
Georgina Goodlander from the Smithsonian Museum of Art shared how her institution was using alternate reality games like Ghosts of a Chance to engage young people. She backed up her work with research, which showed that those who participated in the games could recall the artworks on display far better than normal visitors.
Gail Durbin, Head of V&A Online, presented her institution’s approach to the web which looked to increasingly give their audiences a voice. She shared crowdsourcing projects which reached out to niche audiences and built compelling digital content around their exhibitions.
Mike Ellis from Eduserv used his presentation to make the case for museum’s thinking about mobile technology in response to the growing use of smartphones. Mike shared best practice from museums who were experimenting with mobile apps and mobile friendly websites, with augmented reality, QR codes and GPS enabled technology all mentioned in his presentation.
Many of these technologies were widely adopted by museums and the growth in mobile technology would in many ways shape the use of technology in museums over the subsequent years.