Wednesday 9 April 2014


So, on Monday I pointed to (salivated over?) the Museopunk interview with Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the Dallas Museum of Art. Two things really struck me in his discussion about the DMA Friends programme.

First, his statement that he didn't care if they discovered that their 600,000 visitors per year were actually 280,000 people visiting multiple times. As he pointed out, it's only a tiny fraction of the museums in the States that are tourist destinations - those places you feel you ought to visit, even if you "don't care about art". Most are like the DMA; actually used heavily by the local population. In which case, repeat visitation isn't just good - it's to be encouraged.

The second was Anderson's observation that when he joined a little over two years ago, the DMA was running 8,000 programmes a year (exhibitions and events and education visits etc). Now it's running 5,000. Again, he sees this as a good thing. Everyone inside a museum has things they really, really want to do. Every museum has things they do because they feel they should, or out of habit. The DMA Friends programme is partly about finding out what visitors value. As Anderson says - he doubts anyone has noticed that 3,000-event drop.

The Museums and the Web conference was held last week, and Rob Stein and Bruce Wyman presented on the programme, with a special focus on repeat visitation. They don't reveal how to make it happen, but they do share a bunch of stuff, including slides on Slideshare and a bunch of graphs.

Sometimes I feel very far away from my museums-and-the-web days (apart from being heavy social media users at The Dowse, we're pretty much non-digital, and I'm more than okay with that). But this one-two combination of interview and overheard-on-the-internet presentation have given me the kick in the pants that I needed to get my A into G and get started on some lightweight visitor research. And that's what this community always does me for - so thanks, y'all, from a distance but with deep gratitude.

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