We have all heard of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre, and the Prado. Whether you have visited or not, the brand becomes synonymous with travel and culture. For decades, these highly acclaimed museums have reached a vast amount of the public’s eyes. But for years, there has been a systemic problem of catching the youth’s interest. While much of this can be attributed to the advancement of technology and the generation gap, the lack of interest within one’s history, culture, and art is now more than ever prevalent to the supercilious status that museums hold over their communities. To put it in simpler terms, the museums are not reaching the people’s needs.
Yes, museums have a sense of higher status and class attributed to their names, but that is just the nature of the beast. When dealing with rare findings and priceless pieces, it is hard not to associate these entities with a type of social economical status. But even with this, museums need to move away from the ivory towers and start catering to their communities beyond the standard ‘school visits.’
Over the years, American museum directors have become responsible for not only the overall aesthetics, but also increasingly, the business side of their institutions. Because of these various hats (artist connoisseur, CEO, manager), their mentality for their museums go beyond the idea showcasing great work, but increasing the funds and reputation for their ‘business.’ While much of this is understandable, they need to comprehend that they are overlooking their impact, or lack thereof, with the community around them. This impending business-like mentality has pushed a more emphasis on splendid aesthetics for the rich donors and vanity projects than the overall public interest. The Economist highlights much of these problems in their article, Onwards and Upwards and the negative ramifications that this mindset can have on the people.
So how do we move beyond the financial aspect of a museum to a more attractive appeal for this up-and-coming generation?
To start, much of the arguments against the youth generation’s lack of interest because of technology can be leveraged as a museums benefit. With the advancement of technology, we are able to listen, here, and practically touch things that did not exist ten, fifteen-years ago. Go-Pro has recently developed a new age of digital experience with their ‘spherical solutions,’ videos and images that provide a user with a 360 real life view of a particular time and place. Yes, this can be counterintuitive in persuading people to visit than to watch, but in order to capture a person’s attention, also need to cater to the vicissitudes of a generation. Showing a piece of the whole can be just enough to capture the hearts of the public.
In addition to incorporating technology within museums, museums marketing team need to be relevant and consistent with social media. Social media has taken a new form where a simple post can be informative or aiding to the public. Because of this, museums can use this in their favor to highlight various events, displays, or showcases they want when reaching an entire mass of people.
Last but not least, museums need to provide special events themed around young adults or teenagers. This will allow these institutions to build relationships with the communities around them and create long lasting fans.