How to get Millennials into your Museum

Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Flikr, Pintrest, Tumblr, YouTube and LinkedIn – all popular social media sites used predominantly by the 18-30 age bracket, a.k.a. “millennials”.

There are so many different ways to connect with friends and family, to share your life experiences online, that it often seems like it’s a competition to have had the best experiences. Being seen to be actively doing something with your life has become such a prominent and absorbing part of a millennial’s existence that tourist destinations which don’t market themselves as offering an experience are missing out on a significant amount of potential revenue.

So how to get these young adults back into your museum? Amy Schaffman of the Augusta Museum of History in Georgia, U.S.A thinks she might have the answer…

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How will museums of the future look?

As a keen museum-goer, I was thrilled to move to Amsterdam and explore the wide range of museums on offer in and around the city. In 2015, the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank Huis received 2.35 million visitors, 1.9 million visitors, and 1.27 million visitors respectively (see the list here for more information). Meanwhile in my home country of the UK, the top 3 museums in London ranked by visitor numbers in 2015 were the British Museum with 6.8 million visitors, National Gallery with 5.9 million visitors, and the Tate Modern with 4.7 million visitors (see here for more information). In cities like Amsterdam and London it is especially obvious that museums have a bright future ahead of them.

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Treasures in Trusted Hands

Image: Anonymous, Mask, 1700-1800, Collection Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

On the 29th of May CLUE+ – the Amsterdam based research institute for Culture, History and Heritage – organised a panel discussion to launch the book ‘Treasures in Trusted Hands. Negotiating the Future of Colonial Cultural Objects’ by Jos van Beurden. The ‘hot shots’ of the European museum world gathered on a sunny afternoon in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam to have a discussion about how museums should deal with objects coming from the former colonies, or in other words, should museums give these objects back to the local communities of the countries they come from?

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#heritage

I can’t be the only one who has watched a strangers’ eyes glaze upon revealing the field in which I study. “Heritage? So…like…history? ….Why?” Indeed, oftentimes it seems that people have this perception that the study of heritage is the driest of disciplines, increasingly obsessed with the over-and-done-with past while remaining blissfully ignorant of the fascinating progresses of the present.

This is not the case, of course.

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Let’s Turn up the Volume: Music, Heritage and the Women’s Liberation Movement

Deborah Withers’ lecture Contemporary Intangible Heritage and Archiving Memory: Music making in the UK Women’s Liberation Movement, as part of the Innovative Heritage Conference 2014  initially grabbed my attention for a non-academic reason; the fact that I am a devoted Kate Bush fan. Deborah Withers is the author of Adventures in Kate Bush and Theory, a self-published book (HammerOn Press – a grassroots publishing label) about how Kate Bush’s music liberated female creativity and acted as a catalyst for solo female artists’ to express themselves in an entirely new way. Kate Bush aside, her lecture also sparked an academic interest within me due to the fact that I specialised in the broad topic, ‘Women and Feminist Movements in Europe’ as part of my undergraduate degree in History. Continue reading

Digital technology: a mean to achieve co-creation and participation in museums.

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Stepping out from our personal ‘comfort zone’ is advertised by many motivational psychologists as the magic trick to re-invent our life path and reaching happiness and success. Kajsa Hartig, Senior Advisor – New Media at Nordiska Museet applied this metaphor to museums that are struggling to get out of traditional and colonial models to become more socially relevant to the audience. The title of her speech given during one of the MuseumNext Conference, ‘Stepping out the comfort zone to re-imagine the museum experience’  grabbed my attention at a very personal level. To re-imagine and stretch out the horizons of my life I stepped out from the comfort and the warmth of my cosy home to move in another country and challenge myself by doing an academic master degree. Continue reading

Putting a Window in The Wall

“Let’s Take Back Control”, “Make America Great Again” and make “Nederland Weer Van Ons” (“Make The Netherlands Ours Again”). In the early part of the twenty-first century, governments around the Western world are shoring up country borders, building walls and protecting the values of the “indigenous” people. It would seem that we’re now witnessing a withdrawal from cultural interconnectivity nurtured by the internet and are becoming more afraid of the rest of the world, retreating into nationalist ways of thinking.

Messages of hate can be shared from one side of the globe to the other on Facebook in an instant but can we share empathy and make our cultures understood just as easily?

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The challenge of shaping the layout of an Exhibition Space

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In the last couple of months, I have been working as an intern in an art gallery called Kunsthuizen situated in Amsterdam. My role in the gallery doesn’t involve interaction with visitors, but the desk where I work most of the day is situated on the first floor in an open space of a three storey building, which allows me to be a kind of ‘participant observer’. In fact, I can pick up various comments that visitors make about the artworks displayed but also on aspects of the gallery’s architectural layout in terms of space and the interior design. Since observing visitor behaviour is considered a useful tool in the museum field for understanding ‘facts and actions that are preconditions for learning and non-learning situations’ (Bollo and Dal Pozzolo 2005 in Tzortzu 2014: 329) and, complementary to other research techniques to provide a comprehensive picture of the visitors’ experience, it is very interesting for me to use this opportunity to reflect on the behaviour and the interaction of visitors with the museums and art galleries’ space.

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