Museums are focusing audience engagement strategies on digitisation of the collection, social media and informative websites to deliver public value and educational opportunities, according to new research conducted by Axiell, the leading provider of collections management software for archives, libraries and museums. The survey, carried out in cooperation with Museums and the Web on 71 senior leaders, strategy consultants, curators and employees from museums worldwide, also shows many are using smartphones and tablets to engage visitors and provide educational opportunities.
The new research shows that more than half (53%) of museums are actively investing in engagement strategies. Museums today need to fulfil their mission and creating a sustainable future, which means that they must take care of their core assets, the collection, and also invest in strategy and leveraging technology to reach the connected consumer.
The key priorities for audience engagement include providing educational opportunities, cited by 86% of survey respondents, followed by making information on activities and programmes available online (65.7%), enhancing the visitor experience via mobile services (50%), reaching diverse audiences (61.4%), making the museum accessible (64.2%) and creating quality cross-platform experiences (40%).
The highest priority areas in terms of investment include marketing, online platforms and communication strategies, cited by 54%, with 44% investing in digitising their collections. Digitisation of the collection can aid the museum in receiving donations, since making the collection public is closely tied to educational and research goals. Currently only one in five museums has digitised more than 50% of its collection.
The research also reveals clear signs that the museum market is growing and engagement is on the rise, with 48.5% of museums seeing an increase in physical visits, 50% in website visits and 82.3% in activities on social media sites.
Museums are also leveraging on technologies such as smartphones and tablets, with 33% citing that visitors can use their own devices to access a complete guide of the museum and almost 40% increasing their investment to do the same. Only a quarter of respondents said that they have not yet started to use mobile devices.
When asked more specifically about their audience engagement and development strategies, at least half of museums confirmed the following to be a core part of their approach:
- Metadata standards for online collections
- Digital asset management
- Digitising standards and planning
- Curriculum and other standards for education content
- Accessibility standards and inclusive design
John Doolan, CEO of Archives, Libraries and Museums at Axiell, said: ”Digitising information is exactly what museums need to be doing to ensures that they can bring their collections to life. For many of our customers, tying together objects from archives, libraries and museums ensure a completeness for educational and research purposes that is invaluable to society. At Axiell, it is our vision to bring large research institutions to children so they can benefit in their education by accessing the world’s the cultural heritage.”
Also commenting on the report, Deputy Director of the Broad Art Museum in Los Angeles, said: “This kind of research is important for the museum community to do and we are hopeful that museums will use these results to inform their practice. We plan to collect additional data annually so that we can start tracking trends in the field.”
The results will be presented and discussed at the Museums and the Web’s North American conferencein Los Angeles in April 2016.