Jasper Visser from the Museum of National History of the Netherlands spoke about the importance of sparking historical imagination, where a museum has to be more than a building and more than objects. I was really looking forward to Jasper’s talk because I missed his talk at Museums and the Web 2011.
Jasper is in an unusual position, as the Museum of National History doesn’t have a physical building, so he highlighted the innovative ways you can engage audiences when you aren’t bound by the traditional concepts of a museum. What I loved about Jasper’s talk is that he was presenting very clear simple ideas. It is because they are simple concepts is why they have worked so well.
The first top tip from Jasper is to Go to where the audience are; both physically and digitally. Museums need to be where the people are and need to tell stories. Don’t think of your museum website as a website, but as a service. Where do the majority of people find information about history online? Initially through a search engine. Therefore that’s where your museum should be, and where stories should be told. Take museums to where the people are, and make museums the glue of the story, draw audiences to you.
Target your audience. Segementation does work for specific audiences. Jasper gave the example of connecting to architects by encouraging designs for what is your ultimate dream for a museum building? Showing how targeted design with a specific audience can work. By directly addressing people with a specific interest you get higher and richer participation
Get the message out there. One example of this is the National Vending Machine (Nationale Automatiek the link is in Dutch) a genius idea! Amsterdam in particular is full of vending machine selling all sorts of greasy/ cheesy/ meaty produce to tourists, why not use something similar to sell culture? A vending machine which allows visitors to a museum to buy historical objects. The objects in the vending machine tells a story about Dutch history and are both historical and recognisable, like a tulip or a bicycle bell Each object, enables visitors to find out more about the objects on an attached label, see as a video or follow the URL to the website.
Think Beoynd Text and design Holistically. Jasper gave a great holistic overview of how to maximise reach and impact of projects. Use visitor senses. Its not about text. Pre-seed, across all possible channels, encourage potential visitors to use their senses, eyes, and ears, this is essential to generate the highest levels of social interaction & influence around museum events and exhibitions. What visitors like is the stuff that goes to the eyes (Youtube), ears (Spotify) or heart (FB). YouTube/Vimeo/Flickr etc can allow your event to live on beyond the physical event, and continue to have relevance to your audience. Finally Jasper told us the museum visitor is like a bunny… Engage the bunny with all the online senses before the physical visit as well as after it.