Monday 25 January 2016

WCMT Acquittal Draft: Membership programmes

I'm currently attacking, chunk by chunk, my acquittal for the funding I received from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust for my research trip around American museums last year. It struck me that rather than release it all as one big fat PDF I might try posting drafts of sections here, for any feedback that might be forthcoming. This first post looked at one of my four research areas, visible storage. This second post is on another of those four topics, membership programmes.

I should emphasise that this really is a *draft* and changes to the final document are inevitable.

1.1. Introduction

Museum membership programmes have two main objectives: to generate an unrestricted source of revenue for the museum, and to create a core group of supporters who will attend exhibitions and events, spread the word about the museum's activities, and hopefully come to further contribute to the museum through donations and bequests. Membership levels are generally tiered: at the lowest levels, membership is generally seen as a direct exchange for benefits (free or discounted exhibition entry, parking, merchandise etc) and the cost of acquiring and servicing members usually takes up a significant portion of the revenue generated; at higher levels, the revenue often outweighs the benefits received, and membership is seen as a form of philanthropy.

Museums are increasingly concerned about how to attract new members, and are not seeing younger visitors transition into becoming members in the way their predecessors did. Research has been conducted into 'millennials' attitudes towards museum membership, and shows changing priorities: while free admission is still the highest priority, younger generations are less interested in exclusive access or perks, and are increasingly interested in showing their support for social causes. (Dilenschneider 2012, 2015).

Like many museum directors, I am interested in new approaches to museum membership programmes. Without doubt, the most discussed project in this area in the past three years has been the Dallas Museum of Art's Friends programme. On this trip I both wanted to meet with staff at the museum to learn about how the programme had been implemented and evaluated, and to have the experience of signing up as a member and visiting the museum as a Friend myself.

1.2 Museum memberships in the internet age

My own observation is that over the past ten years, with museum's rapid adoption of social media platforms, the concepts of loyalty, friendship and access have changed. Museums now regularly share online the kinds of stories and insights that were once the purview of a museum member on a behind the scenes tour. People follow museums online that may be nowhere near their geographical location, enjoying a sense of connection and support that may never translate into a physical visit.

The Brooklyn Museum's 1st Fans programme was an early experiment in museum membership in the online world. The programme, which ran from 2009 to 2012, was designed to appeal to two groups who did not buy traditional museum memberships: regular attendees of their Target First Saturdays (free admission days) and for online fans of the museum. Often described as a 'social media membership', the programme offered access to private channels on Flickr, Twitter and Facebook, where exclusive content was shared, and physical meet-up events at the museum, for $20 a year. The creators, Will Cary (Memberships Manager 2008-2010) and Shelley Bernstein (Vice Director of Digital Engagement & Technology), saw the programme as a way of offering a form of membership that was not about buying cheaper access to the museum, but about a deeper relationship with the museum and greater two-way interaction.

This thinking was very much in the air in 2008 (when the programme was conceived), when museums were moving rapidly into the area of online community management (following the lead of early champions such as photo-sharing site Flickr) and the use of social media to, for the first time, offer large-scale personalised two-way communication between the museum and its audiences. The programme, while loved by its participants, stalled in its growth and moreover did not transition members from this 'beginner' level to higher tiers of membership, a development path that is key to generating the revenue that is, after all, part of the reason for having membership programmes. The programme was shut down in mid 2012.

The Dallas Museum of Art's Friends membership programme could be seen as an evolution of this thinking about what membership looks like in an online world. Where Brooklyn Museum took its model from community management, the web zeitgeist of its time, the DMA's is informed by our contemporary focus on data collection and data mining.

In late 2012, the DMA announced they about to reinstate free general admission to the museum. This in itself was not innovative: approximately one third of American art museums have free admission (although this is most common in organisations located in universities). In the same announcement though the museum announced a new, free level of museum membership, the 'Friends', that would allow participants to collect points that could later been converted into their choice of rewards. At the time of the announcement director Maxwell L. Anderson stated that "“Nobody has ever done this. ... We’re going to build a model for museum engagement that we believe every other museum like us will want to have.” (Granberry 2012)

Anderson has long argued that museum admissions bring only a tiny fraction of museum's earned revenue (2%-5%) while presenting a significant financial and social barrier to attendance, especially to non-traditional audiences. (it is worth noting that the DMA received a US$9 million donation to fund free admission, and to facilitate the digitisation of the permanent collection. As director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art Anderson reinstated free admission with the ambition of removing barriers to access; the Friends programme was the next iteration of this aspiration to expand and diversify museum attendance.

While this was not the message of early announcements, the Friends programme quickly became framed by the museum and by commentators as an exchange of data for access. Within a year, arts commentator Tyler Green described it as a successful "data-for-free-admission deal". (Green 2014) In this way, DMA Friends trades upon our growing comfort with (or resignation to) sharing a little bit of information about ourselves in return for access or convenience: handing over our email address for a discount, using Facebook to create an account on another website, accepting cookies on a newspaper's website. Deliberately or unwittingly, we are accessing the bounty of the internet seemingly for free, but really at the cost of the sharing of information about our age, gender, location, interests, shopping history, and more.

1.3 DMA Friends programme - objectives, implementation, and philosophy

The Friends programme has three main aims:

  • to promote the museum to non-visitors
  • to increase engagement and repeat visitation
  • to use the data gathered from tracking members of the programme to inform museum operations.

When the DMA made its double announcement, Anderson was quoted as saying "“When somebody from South Dallas walks up to the front desk, and the person behind the counter says, ‘Welcome to the DMA – are you members?’ What are they hearing? It’s like walking into a country club. It freaks you out. It’s exclusionary. I want everybody to feel they belong here, so I want everybody to be a member.'" (Granberry 2012)

Like all museums, the DMA is seeking to become more relevant to its community, and to attract an audience that more accurately reflects the population that surrounds it than the statistically-typical white, older, more educated, usually female museum visitor. Since the 1970s the museum world has been seeking to break down barriers to access - physical, financial and perceptual - through education, outreach, programming and partnerships. However, the perception of the museum as a place that "not for people like me" amongst non-white, lower income people is still strong. The dual announcement was an opportunity for the museum to reach out to non-visitors with a striking new offer, and to engage with every visitor as they entered the museum in a new way.

In a 2014 presentation, the DMA stated "The DMA staff’s top priority is to increase the number of Friends who come back to the Museum tracked by the program." (Stein and Wyman 2014) Offering free admission enables people to make more frequent, shorter and ad hoc visits, rather than seeing visiting as an investment. While museum such as the Met, the Guggenheim and MOMA are tourist icons and draw a high proportion of visitors from domestic and international tourism, museums in most American (and other) cities are serving an audience largely living within driving distance. This is not to dismiss the important role museums play in promoting the reputation of a city and attracting visitors nationally and internationally, but at the same time, driving an increase in repeat visitation from local is an important goal for museums that want to be valued and valuable civic assets.

Placing an engagement layer over free general admission targets the DMA's goal of increased repeat visitation and engagement. In a 2013 paper, Rob Stein (then Deputy Director at the DMA) and museums consultant Bruce Wyman noted the urgent need for museums to "embrace the culture of participation" and respond to contemporary society's desire to be co-creators of the experiences we encounter, rather than passive consumers. (Stein and Wyman, 2013) They noted that despite significant effort from curators, interpreters and designers to construct defined and engaging exhibition layouts, self-directed visitors often "graze" their ways through museums, not necessarily consuming texts and objects in the order museum staff thought that would be experienced and understood. At the same time, Stein and Wyman noted that people's learning is better and their experience more satisfying when they feel they have actively participated in the museum's offering.

The visitor-facing aspect of the Friends programme therefore seek to create multiple pathways for people to engage with and enjoy the museum. Once a visitor is signed up for the programme (handing over their name, contact details and postcode), they have access to the Friend's 'digital engagement platform'. The platform uses a bespoke digital badging system, and a model familiar to any user of an incentive system: by completing certain activities, the visitor collects points, that can then be redeemed for a reward of their choice. Points are collected by the participant collecting short numerical codes as they visit the museum, either by texting them with their phone, or entering them on kiosks on the ground floor.

These activities take both long-term and one-off forms. A scavenger hunt may be run on a single evening, for example, with visitors solving clues, identifying paintings and gaining points. On the long term side, each gallery entrance in the museum has a code affixed to it denoting the exhibition inside: visitors can gain points by uploading these codes. Other 'challenges' are also available, such as gaining points by signing up a friend as a new Friend on your visit. On this level, the Friends operates within the mode of 'gamification' - the application of elements of game playing (for example, point scoring and unlocking levels) to other areas of activity, including the physical world. Gamification techniques have been adopted by many museums in efforts to make their exhibition "stickier" and provide opportunities for deeper participation.

These kinds of activities are not innovative in themselves. The true innovation behind the Friends programme is the linking of these activities to large-scale data collection about individual visitors, which the museum can then analyse. As Anderson said in a 2014 interview, "We’re trying to incentivize people to represent what they’re doing, where they’re going, and how they’re spending their time." (Tozzi 2014)

In a 2014 paper, Stein and Wyman noted:
"In the first year, nearly 50,000 individuals have joined the program, with a running average of 900 new friends per week, primarily from a local audience. Becoming a DMA Friend requires direct on-site enrollment and connection to Museum staff, making the enrollment statistics an important measure of local adoption. The Museum has awarded over 343,000 badges for participation during the launch year and has given away nearly 12,000 rewards connected to points earned in the program. 
In addition to providing a means for the staff of the Museum to structure and measure its performance for generating engagement, the DMA Friends program also generates copious amounts of data about the behavior of individuals as they connect with the Museum’s collections and programs. Truly one of the few big data problems in the museum-space, the Friends program generates more than 21.8 million discrete fields of data annually."
This data not only allows the museum to measure what events and exhibitions Friends members attend, when, and how often (on the assumption Friends are diligently gathering points as they visit): the museum can also associate this visitation data with the postcode information collected at sign-up.

On my visit, Rob Stein showed me the visualisations he can perform with this data, contrasting the visitor patterns they are collecting with Census data. This allows them to generate insights such as understanding which neighbourhoods they are serving, over-serving and under-serving. An insight like this might see the museum draw back on marketing that is reaching a community of high visitors in order to reach a community of lower visitors, or experiment with new programmes to attract new audiences and then measure their success through the Friends data. By using the Census data as a proxy, the DMA can also extrapolate an estimate of the demographics (age, ethnicity, education and income) of their visitors at a scale inconceivable from traditional face to face, phone or online surveying.

In a podcast interview, Anderson noted that the data available through the Friends project lent itself to a more rigorous evaluation of the audience appeal of the museum's programming than ever before. (Inscho, Cairns and Anderson, 2014) However, the use of the data extends beyond internal review, and into fundraising. In mid 2015 Anderson noted that the data the museum was collecting was far more valuable than the lost revenue from admission charges. Or in a specific example from 2014:
"... we have 10,000 corporations headquartered in the Dallas area, we’re about to embark on a robust new recruitment drive around corporate membership. For the first time, we’re going to be literate about who their potential customers are and whom we’re serving. Obviously, we’d never divulge individual data, but now we can say to corporate philanthropy executives, ‘This is whom we’re reaching, and here’s how it’s relevant to you.’" (Green, 2014)

1.4 DMA Friends - my experience

The DMA's architectural footprint is very large - it spans a full city block, and the ground floor has three entrances located at the south (focused on car parking), west (adjacent to the Nasher Sculpture Center) and north (towards the city centre).

On the first day that I visited the museums I spent some time observing at the north and west entrances. I was immediately struck by the friendliness of the visitor host staff, and their engagement with visitors, greeting them as they entered, ascertaining if they were already members of the Friends, and moving quickly into a sales pitch that was practiced but not robotic if the person was not already signed up.

I was also struck by the visitors' willingness to hear the sales pitch out. This was my first visit to Texas and the state certainly lived up to its reputation for politeness. It was interesting to contrast the speed and precision with which the explanation for The Pen was delivered in New York to the leisurely and conversational manner of the Friends pitch.

This point should not be notable, but one of the visitor hosts I encountered greeting people on the ground floor on my visit used a wheelchair. This is the first time I have seen a front of house staffer with an obvious mobility restriction in a major museum. This gave me a very positive early impression of the DMA and its commitment to supporting staff.

After observing for about thirty minutes I went to sign up myself. The pitch I was given was focused on the transactional benefits I could receive (such as quickly gathering sufficient points to reimburse my parking costs - in a city dominated by cars, this is the most appealing short term reward for visitors and likely the key motivator to participant in code-collecting on an average visit).

The host walked me through the sign-up process on a touch screen. I was asked for my email address, phone number and birthdate. The first stumbling block was when I was asked for my postcode. There is no option to enter another country or international postcode and so the host did what he always did in these situations: used the DMA's own postcode. The museum will need to control for this in their data analysis.

The second stumbling block was the screen which asked me to select an avatar. This is a feature which has not been developed (I expect it is in place for future social/sharing developments) and the host explained to me "That doesn't do anything, they had something planned but it didn't work. I don't know why they don't remove it". When I pressed him gently on this he shrugged it off, saying "I'm just a lowly staff member": it was clear he felt like he could not influence the presentation of the tool he was promoting. His manner was warm and helpful throughout, and this was not delivered as a complaint, but more as a Well, what can you do about folks? observation.

The host explained the rewards system and quickly completed a couple of simple challenges for me, meaning that on my visit I could undertake a smaller number of activities myself and still gather enough points to redeem them for a reward that felt meaningful. doesn't feel like he can influence product but explains and promotes it well.

At this point I moved into the galleries. There were two main ways to gain points on the day I visited: by collecting codes from the entrances to galleries, and by collecting codes from specific artworks that were part of a Favourites scavenger hunt.

Collecting gallery codes is the simplest activity. As they are located at the entrance to the gallery, you do not actually have to enter the space or engage with the exhibits in order to earn the code. This could affect the accuracy of the data, as the assumption is that when a visitor enters a gallery code they do so in good faith (showing that they have visited that exhibit) rather than simply to rack up points. This is a low point activity however: the system is organised so as to reward more effortful engagements with higher rewards.

As I began moving around the galleries it became clear to me that the Friends engagement platform is not targeted to international visitors like me, who remained on their original data plan. The simplest way to gather codes is by texting them to the Friends platform: however, because I would be charged for each text, I had to instead note the codes down and then return to the kiosks on the ground floor and manually upload them. This interfered noticeably with what should've been a low-friction interaction.

I also found the gallery codes to be remarkably discreet in terms of design and placement, and I often missed them when walking into a gallery, as I was following the sightlines into the displays rather than looking at the doorways as I went through them. I also tended to use the stairs that slip you between floors in the museum rather than the formal entries to the galleries, so tracking of my progress through the galleries would have been very inconclusive.

As part of my visit I also took part in the Faves scavenger hunt. I found that the design of this interaction was quite the opposite of the gallery codes. The DMA is an extremely large building, with four floors and a great number of galleries. Most are painted in muted hues, with equally muted label design. The labels that pick out Fave artworks however are large and bright red - immediately eye-catching when you enter a gallery and visually sweep it. The effect was to draw you to these specific works at the cost of all other works in the same space. The labels carried a code to be entered into the Friends platform to gain points: again, no further interaction or engagement was sought

As I experienced it, the DMA Friends programme requires only modest effort from the visitor, and evoked correspondingly low engagement. As a non-local, one-off visitor it added very little to my experience, and in fact the scavenger-hunt design pattern probably more disrupted than enriched my experience.

However, as a professional observer, I appreciated this. The programme is emphatically designed to increase repeat visitation by local people, and the activities and rewards are geared towards this. If the design had worked for me - a non-target visitor - I expect the experience for the target audience would be less compelling.

One thing I - perhaps naively - did not expect from the programme was to start receiving weekly emails from the museum with news about coming exhibitions and events, donation appeals and special offers. As a non-committed one-off visitor, these emails tend to be deleted immediately, unopened.

Overall visitor experience

Two observations really struck me as I reflected on my visit to the DMA.

The first was that the Friends platform really felt of a piece with the overall ground floor visitor orientation. The tone of communication and the design of the larger challenges (such as bringing friends with you to the museum) was aligned to the overall communication to visitors. Visiting guidelines at the museum, for example, emphasise "doing things right" rather than "don't do this" and are posted as very large signage on the inside doors of elevators. The building has very good wifi, and the ground floor's main feature (aside from the cafe) is an interactive creativity centre that is strongly appealing to adults as well as children. While the upper three floors are 'standard museum layout', the ground floor provides a coherent and friendly orientating experience that I think would be appealing to people who are new to, and possibly unsure about, visiting museums, and to family groups.

The second thing was the friendliness and engagement of the visitor hosts. I interviewed eight staff members in my time at the DMA and of these six told me - without prompting - that the most dramatic change in Anderson's time at the museum was the way visitor hosts roles were defined.

Barbie Barber, the head of visitor services, described this as a transformation from security culture to a hospitality culture. Staff who had previously been hired and trained to perform a security role - and explicitly discouraged from interacting with visitors - were now trained to think of themselves as hosts. Job descriptions were rewritten, with the mission put at the top, and training on the mission was instated.

New ongoing training was instituted: visitor hosts now attend training every Friday morning from staff throughout the museum. Visitor host staff can now take on training roles themselves, and a previously missing element of career progression has been built into the role. Visitor host staff have also been given more authority: for example, the complaint form has been removed, and visitor hosts encouraged to resolve problems on the spot themselves or take responsibility for following complaints up.

In a 2014 presentation, Rob Stein and Bruce Wyman emphasised the importance of this transformation:
"Believing that the ultimate success of an engagement platform in museums rests on the positive interactions visitors have with museum staff, the DMA chose to reorient its staff in anticipation of the program. This internal realignment is one of the most critical factors in the program’s success to date. 
To start, an existing force of gallery attendants were relocated from the Security department to the Visitor Services department and retrained to focus on hospitality. A warm and sincere welcome is the first interaction a visitor should have with the Museum. The newly minted Visitor Services Attendants embraced the change warmly and grew to see it as their primary role to ensure that the entire city of Dallas would feel a part of the Museum when they arrived. Additionally, small teams of Visitor Services Attendants were redeployed to act as ambassadors for the DMA Friends program. Their goals were to inform new visitors—asking them to join if interested—and welcome return visitors with a smile. Team members began to challenge themselves to hone their “pitch” for DMA Friends and used simple graphs and charts to track their progress each day and week. The positive competition proved infectious and resulted in significant gains seen in new DMA Friends recruitment that continues to this day." (Stein and Wyman, 2014)

1.5 Future rollouts 

In 2013 the DMA, together with partners from the Denver Art Museum, Grace Museum (Abilene, Texas), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Mia), was awarded a National Leadership Grant for US$450,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to pilot a version of the Friends software in each of the partner museums.

On my research trip I visited Mia, where excitement about the opportunities afforded by the software, coupled with work on their customer relationship management software and a realignment of their membership programme to introduce a free entry level with benefits (a US$5-10 gift per month is encouraged; the next level begins at US$150/year).

At Mia I heard a strong focus on tracking and sharing visitors' consumer behaviour as well as as their visit behaviour. This accords well with the data presented by Diana Pan of MOMA at Museums and the Web Asia on members' shopping behaviour and the museum's action to maximise revenue. Staff at Mia were particularly interested in how visitors who signed up for free membership could be engaged in a more philanthropic mindset and moved on to a paid level of membership or encouraged to donate regularly to museum activities.

1.6 Data concerns

Over the duration of my trip, and then at the Museums and the Web Asia and National Digital Forum conferences, I became increasingly discomforted about some of the conversations I had had relating to the collection and use of visitor data. The phrase 'if you're not paying for it, you're the product' has been much bandied about the internet over the past five years, and has become increasingly familiar to those of us who use free services, such as Facebook and Twitter, with the lurking - or overt - knowledge that access to our attention is being sold to advertisers.

I am not suggesting that museums are taking a malicious or exploitative approach to data collection, or storing and using this data in anything but an honourable and secure manner. However, I am strongly swayed in my thinking about my sector's use of data by thinkers such as Cory Doctorow and Maciej Ceglowski, who have likened our current approaches to data collection and retention to the nuclear waste industry:
"We should treat personal electronic data with the same care and respect as weapons-grade plutonium - it is dangerous, long-lasting and once it has leaked there's no getting it back." (Doctorow, 2008) 
"I ... ask you to imagine data not as a pristine resource, but as a waste product, a bunch of radioactive, toxic sludge that we don’t know how to handle. 
In particular, I'd like to draw a parallel between what we're doing and nuclear energy, another technology whose beneficial uses we could never quite untangle from the harmful ones. 
A singular problem of nuclear power is that it generated deadly waste whose lifespan was far longer than the institutions we could build to guard it. Nuclear waste remains dangerous for many thousands of years. 
... The data we're collecting about people has this same odd property. Tech companies come and go, not to mention the fact that we share and sell personal data promiscuously.
information about people retains its power as long as those people are alive, and sometimes as long as their children are alive. No one knows what will become of sites like Twitter in five years or ten. But the data those sites own will retain the power to hurt for decades." (Ceglowski, 2015)

It is not difficult, in a time of falling public funding and increased competition for the philanthropic dollar, to imagine a future scenario where selling the data we collect on our visitors to third parties becomes an appealing - or necessary - scenario. I believe it behoves us, as institutions trusted for centuries now to collect, manage and preserve our society's material culture and expressions of creativity and knowledge, to apply the same forethought and ethics to the data we collect from and use on behalf of the public, and ensure we are always acting in the best interests of the people we exist to serve.

1.7 Conclusion

What impresses me about the DMA Friends programme is the rigour and ambition of the thought behind it. The programme is designed to address many of the central questions facing museums today: How do we reach out to non-visitors? How do we create engaging experiences? How do we know who is visiting us, and what they're doing? How do we provide information to current and future funders on our performance? It does this in a manner that is scalable, and that draws on many parts of the museum, from education to visitor hosts.

New Zealand is fortunate in that our publicly funded museums operate largely on the basis of free entry, meaning this barrier to access has been far less significant in our history. There is much we can learn however from American museums' approach to membership programmes, especially as they seek to move on from a transactional to an engagement model.

In the time since I returned to New Zealand, both Maxwell Anderson and Rob Stein have resigned from the DMA. The pair came to the museum together from the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) where they evolved much of the thinking that went into the DMA's programmes, including free admission and data collection. Since Anderson moved on from the IMA the decision has been to reinstate charged entry, on the basis that the draw-down on the museum's endowment was too great to sustain the loss in admissions revenue.

It has become clear to me that innovation in the digital realm is strongly driven by individual personalities and aspirations. The digital world moves swiftly - especially compared to the "museum world", which is a steady and slow-paced beast. With driving figures such as Max Anderson and Rob Stein moving on, I will be watching with interest to see whether the changes in culture and operating they introduced become embedded in the DMA's DNA, or if the institution morphs again under a new leadership team.

1.8 Further information

On the Dallas Museum of Art's Friends programme

See also

Michael Granberry, 'Dallas Museum of Art takes bold step of offering free general admission AND free memberships', The Dallas Morning News, 27 November 2012

Michael Granberry, 'DMA thrives during 2013 with free admission, new revenue', The Dallas Morning News, 27 December 2013

John Tozzi, 'Dallas Museum of Art Trades Memberships for Data', Bloomberg Business, 20 February 2014

Rob Stein and Bruce Wyman, 'Nurturing Engagement: How Technology and Business Model Alignment can Transform Visitor Participation in the Museum', paper given at Museums and the Web conference, Portland, 2014

Rob Stein and Bruce Wyman, 'Seeing the Forest and the Trees: How Engagement Analytics Can Help Museums Connect to Audiences at Scale', paper given at Museums and the Web conference, Portland, 2014

Director Maxwell Anderson interviewed by Jeffrey Inscho and Suse Cairns, 2014

'Dallas Museum of Art’s DMA Friends Program Home to 100,000 Members', press release, Dallas Museum of Art, 16 April 2015

Rob Stein, Emerald Cassidy, Jonathan Finkelstein, Andrea Fulton, Douglas Hegley, Amy Heibel, Shyam Oberoi, Kate Tinworth, and Bruce Wyman, 'Scaling up: Engagement platforms and large-scale collaboration', paper given at Museums and the Web conference, Chicago, April 2015

On free entrance, repeat visitation and membership programmes

On Brooklyn Museum's 1st Fans programme

American Museums Memberships Conference proceedings

Maxwell L. Anderson, 'Metrics of Success in Art Museums', Getty Leadership Institute, 2004

'Going Free? Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and General Admission Fees', Office of Policy and Analysis, Smithsonian Institute, April 2007

Nina Simon, '1stfans: An Audience-Specific Membership Program at the Brooklyn Museum', Museums 2.0, 12 February 2009

Julie Rega, 'Museum Membership Programs: Innovation in a Troubled Economy', MA thesis, Seton Hall University, 2011

Ford W. Bell, 'How Are Museums Supported Financially in the U.S.?', Embassy of the United States of America, March 2012

Shelley Bernstein, 'A sunset for 1st Fans', 11 May 2012

Colleen Dilenschneider, 'How Gen Y is changing museum and non-profit memberships', 30 October 2012

Lee Rosenbaum, 'Dallas Fallacy: Should Museums’ Admission Be Free?', CultureGrrl, 3 December 2012

Elizabeth Olsen, 'Looking for Ways to Groom Repeat Visitors', New York Times, 20 March 2013

Tyler Green, 'Why more art museums will be free – and soon', Modern Art Notes, 8 January 2014,

Mostafa Heddaya, 'The Price of Admission: The New Whitney and Museum Tickets in New York', Bloiun ArtInfo, 11 May 2015

Amy Langfield, 'Art museums find going free comes with a cost', Fortune, 1 June 2015

Colleen Dilenschneider, 'How Free Admission Really Affects Museum Attendance', 12 August 2015,

Colleen Dilenschneider, 'The membership benefits that millennials want from cultural organizations', 21 December 2015

'Art museums by the numbers', Association of Art Museum Directors, 7 January 2016

For concerns around data collection and retention

Coy Doctorow, 'Personal data is as hot as nuclear waste', The Guardian, 15 January 2008

Maciej Ceglowski, 'Haunted by Data', paper given at the Strata+Hadoop World conference, New York City, 1 October 2015

James Bridle, 'Big Data? No Thanks', paper given at the Through Post-Atomic Eyes conference in Toronto, October 2015, published 2 November 2015

Courtney Johnston 'Cultural institutions and the social compact', paper given at the National and State Libraries of Australasia digital citizenship conference, Wellington, 12 November 2015

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