Museums Going Digital in 2013

museums going digital

Emerging technology creates opportunities for museums to connect with patrons on multiple levels. From digital marketing, enhanced visitor experiences to online fundraising, museums are integrating digital tools and technologies at a rapid rate.

Museums are not only using social media to advertise events and exhibits, but are embracing the idea of inviting users to help them create online contentThe Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland developed a campaign using Facebook as a medium to engage new audiences. They used actual critiques on modern art from discussion forums and newspapers and then added the “Make a better one yourself, then” slogan. People were invited to upload their own art to the museum’s Facebook gallery where the community could vote, support, and comment on their favorite works.

The result? Nearly 600 artwork submissions, over 30,000 visitors to the museum website, over 1 million page downloads, an average of 6 minutes spent on the website, and thousands of ‘likes’ on Facebook. (watch video)

We can also see the evidence of emerging technology within the museums themselves. Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gallery One is a unique, innovative gallery that blends art, technology, and interpretation. Opening on January 21, 2013, the revolutionary space will feature the largest multi-touch screen in the United States measuring 40-foot wide. The Collection Wall allows visitors to shape their own tours of the museum and retrieve over 3,500 objects from the museum’s world-renowned permanent collection.

iPad 2 wielding patrons can enhance the Collection Wall experience even further. The multi-dimensional mobile app, ArtLens, enables them to explore how works of art were made, where they came from and why they were produced. Recognizing that a significant number of patrons are now equipped with mobile devices, museums are developing strategies that facilitate deeper connections with the subject matter.

QR Codes, mobile websites and social media platforms are just a few of the digital platforms available for such activities. The Penn Museum uses location-based social networking service FourSquare to incentivize visits. They give away free drinks to the first ten visitors who “check-in” after 5:00pm during the summer months.

Digital innovations go beyond the walls of the museum and offer museums the chance to nurture ongoing relationships with patrons. Online fundraising software such as Big River is providing museums with a capability to harness knowledge trapped in donor databases in order to present the most effective messages to the potential donor. This use of technology rivals traditional methods while providing institutions with valuable data and insight.

“We have been blessed with the ability to be able to transition into a new age of communicating,” states August Napoli, Deputy Director and Chief Advancement Officer at Cleveland Museum of Art. “We have to be prepared to communicate with [our patrons] in ways they receive communication. Technology coming into this has been very important.” (Watch interview with August Napoli)

As 2013 commences we will observe an increasing number of institutions adopting emerging digital technology. Their efforts are guided by their goal to be relevant to patrons while exploring new ways to connect with them.