I have not written a blog post for quite sometime. I have reassessed my professional needs and took on new projects, including being a chair for the New England Museum Association’s (NEMA) Young and Emerging Professionals (YEPs) Professional Affinity Group (PAG).
This afternoon, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and Adam Rozan, Director of Audience Engagement at the Worcester Art Museum, hosted a Twitter discussion about audience engagement at AAM’s conference. I jumped at the chance to participate in this conversation.
During research for my thesis, I developed a deeper appreciation for technology, museums, and audiences. Previous to this, my museum career path was to be a collections manager. More than a year later after finishing my thesis, I have turned my sights on audience engagement and interpretation initiatives. Museums have the unique opportunity to work with collections that serve as touchstones for communities.
So how can museums engage their audiences?
- As Kate Burgess-MacIntosh pointed out the “[fir]st step of audience engagement: know your audience, or audiences.” Understanding audiences will help museums develop stronger content.
- Get staff on board with new technologies. New technology can be expensive and difficult to learn for some people, but having staff support and participation can develop great content and communication. I also highly recommend senior level staff members to participate on social media.
- Transparency. Transparency is essential to break down barriers between the audience and museum staff.
- Tap into the audience’s knowledge. Audiences have their own experiences and knowledge that museums can harness. By doing so, exhibitions and collections will transcend and take on a new and intimate meaning with the audience.
I know I’m missing a few ways, but hopefully you can fill in the blanks. What are some other ways museums can increase audience engagement? Are there any successful or failed attempts of audience engagement?