How to Leverage Technology During Closures
April 10, 2020
While brick and mortar locations are often top-of-mind when people think of cultural organizations, these institutions offer so much more than a physical space full of rich culture and artifacts, to anyone who has a thirst for learning. From online education, research and development, documentation, historical artifact collections and more, cultural organizations help us connect to our past, present, and future. Many organizations are now leveraging these robust collections to surface exciting content that will engage visitors while we are all practicing shelter-in-place and other social distancing techniques in the fight against COVID-19.
Now more than ever, people are craving an escape. You can offer your visitors a moment to virtually transport to another place and time where they can immerse themselves in a different culture, be whisked off to past time periods or go to impossible places, like the edges of outer space.
Looking across the industry we’ve seen a few trends that we thought were worth sharing:
Promote revenue opportunities
The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, PA is offering a series of online classes over the next few weeks including Manet, Women, and Paris, The World of Giotto, Decoding Barnes’s Ensembles and more. Each of these courses is instructed by an existing Barnes team member, utilizing their expertise to bring relevant content to core audiences. This will also give your employees an opportunity to tap into other areas they may not have had the chance to explore in their daily job roles. It can even give you ideas for future revenue-generating opportunities.
With schools being closed and parents needing creative ways to educate their children from home, this is also a great time to engage a younger audience and offer online learning classes to teach children about the various exhibits you have at your institution.
Increase the flexibility of pre-booked tickets
The onset of shutdowns due to COVID-19 overlapped with spring break in most regions across the U.S. The rate of advance purchasing tends to increase during peak periods; this coupled with other pre-planned and promoted events created a major influx of refund requests. Organizations like Museum of Modern Art and Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are extending additional flexibility to accommodate advance purchases and giving refunds when necessary.
We recommend implementing things like tickets with no expiration, converting tickets into membership and rebooking into a future event. These are all things you can do to accommodate your visitors while maintaining the revenue.
Become a resource for your local community
Leading museums like The Getty Center and Villa are using their reach to keep their communities informed of local news relating to COVID-19. They are providing direct links to reputable sites and top trending information like the CDC, Department of Public Health and local city and state news, mandates and more. This can be extremely helpful for individuals who feel overwhelmed by the amount of information circulating regarding COVID-19. What people need most right now is support.
Reshape existing content strategies to prioritize “the now”
Many museums including the Art Institute of Chicago and The Met have reorganized their website landing pages to make things like virtual content and donations their main focus, as well as making it more easily accessible to their audiences.
Organizations like the Exploratorium, Seattle Art Museum, and The Tech Interactive have increased the prominence of donation asks, and places like The Field Museum offer a great example of bringing social media front and center. During this downtime, you have the opportunity to engage your audience and people that are interested in your institution by really leveraging social media. You can tie this in with a virtual tour strategy, or simply by building up your following for when things get back to normal. For creative ideas lookup trending hashtags on Instagram like #zootoyou #museumfromhome #ourgardensyourhome.
Each and every day we are all learning to adjust to this new way of life. Let’s continue to learn from each other and share best practices on how to engage audiences during this temporary period of closure in our industry. We hope you are all staying safe and healthy!