Although a variety of age groups visit museums, recent research shows that majority of them are of an older audience. For example, 41% of museum visitors are over 55 years old. This doesn’t speak too well for museums that seek to attract younger audiences. Nowadays, you’re likely to find younger audiences immersed in their devices then go to museums.
Research backs this up. Most younger audiences spend a third of their time on their devices. They’re most likely pursuing hobbies, playing games, watching Tiktok videos, etc. This is because these things offer them an immersive and engaging experience.
As an establishment that wants to stay relevant, museums must rely on more than just the patronage of older visitors. They must get innovative and use these measures to attract younger audiences to the museums.
Wondering how to? We’ve got some innovative ways you could use to attract younger audiences to your museum.
Reinvent your image
Albert Einstein once said: “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.”
This applies to museums that want to attract younger audiences. Most younger audiences view museums as dusty and forgotten art is put. Hence why they’d rather see a TikTok video than an art exhibition.
So to change this narrative and attract them, museums must reinvent their image and portray themselves as attractive to the younger generation.
They can do this by organizing fun, educative and immersive exhibitions that keep the younger generation interested and asking for more.
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, is one of those museums that have reinvented itself from a forgotten and closed museum to an art hub. Now, it boasts a bigger exhibition space and art pieces that attract both the old and young. This cost the museum a hundred million euros. To attract younger audiences, the museum now boasts of 650 works spanning seven centuries, including numerous masterpieces of art history. The museum also combines old and modern art with the etherial bright white "stairway to heaven"that connects the four floors and takes the public on a tour of modern art.
Another museum that has reinvented its image is the Met Museum. They’ve taken art a step further by merging art with gaming. Iin 2020, they allowed players to add artworks from their collections to their Animal Crossing: New Horizons game. This got younger audiences involved in the museums and elevated the museum’s status as an all-inclusive experience where more museums do these, they are sure to attract a younger audience.
There’s a good chance that you still remember some of the bedtime stories your parents told you when you were younger with nostalgia, right? Of course. That’s how humans are, regardless of whether we’re Gen-Z or baby boomers. We love stories.
According to Ariana Huffington, “People think in stories, not statistics, and marketers need to be master storytellers”.
Every artwork, every artifact, and every collection tells a story. So to attract younger audiences, museums must leverage it. Storytelling should be in more than just art curation. It would help if you also employed it in creating captivating ads on social media and your website. Museums must let this storytelling approach extend into everything they do.
An example of this is the story museum established by Kim Pickin. By using storytelling in all the art in the museum, they’ve been able to educate and attract all forms of audiences, old and young. More museums adopting this approach are sure to arouse the interest of younger audiences in museums.
Be innovative in everything you do
To attract younger audiences, museums need to up their innovation game which. they can do by figuring out new ways to present their exhibits.
An example is how the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) used its curators to tell the stories of certain paintings and sculptures.
Some other museums that have also been innovative to attract younger audiences include the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy that had their own digital collectables such as an Michelangelo NFT that was sold for $170,000. Other museums are the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, USA and the Louvre in Paris, France.
In addition, they have started virtual museum tours where a museum visitor can access it from their home through a virtual museum tour, much like Google Street View. Since research already proves that the younger generation is less likely to go long distances to museums, unlike older people, innovations such as these virtual tours are sure to help museums attract them.
Use New Technology
New technologies create new possibilities and opportunities. One of such opportunities new technologies create, particularly for museums, is the chance to attract and engage them actively.
Immersive technology like virtual and augmented reality creates new ways of experiencing curated experiences. So with a virtual reality Google, younger audiences can experience art at its hyper-realistic best.
More museums must be willing to try new technologies, which is key to unlocking younger audiences. Some museums are already practising this, including the Louvre, which opened the ‘Mona Lisa: Beyond the Glass’. This VR experience explores the Renaissance painting as part of its Leonardo da Vinci blockbuster exhibition. Through interactive design, sound and animated images, users discover details about the painting, such as its wood panel texture and how time has changed its appearance.
More museums will unlock the younger audiences they seek if they adopt this.
Make Museums accessible
Although museums provide immersive, educative and captivating experiences, not everyone can come to your museums. Many younger audiences would rather sit at home playing video games or watching TikTok than drive to a museum. So as an organization that wants to attract younger audiences, you must make your museums accessible to all. This could be done through virtual tours, traveling exhibitions, and opening the museum at different hours to accommodate younger audiences.
Examples of Museums that have done this are The British Museum, London, which allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies. The National
Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, also offers virtual tours that take you through six floors of contemporary art from Korea and all over the globe.
Also, the Smithsonian American Art Museum offers all-inclusive travelling exhibitions that attract younger audiences. During these traveling exhibitions, there are exciting video games that tell the stories of the exhibition. Also, there are exciting exhibitions that attract a variety of audiences, younger ones inclusive.
In addition, museums like The Kentucky Historical Society have figured out the best opening hours to attract younger audiences. They did this by strategically planning and knowing their target audiences: Middle school students, Teachers, Researchers, and Local historical societies. They then iterated and figured out opening hours to suit these target audiences. This led them to eliminate public hours for three months last winter and be open for tours by appointment only. It turned out that they served more people with this arrangement than the previous year at a fraction of the cost.
Where more museums make it accessible, they’re sure to get younger audiences.
Master the art of short media
The average attention span of a human being is 8.25 seconds. So to engage and attract such an audience, museums must master the art of using media. Such as short video content, GIFs, etc.
Some museums that have hacked this and are attracting younger audiences include MOMA in New York. The Tate galleries in the United Kingdom have also mastered it with their expert usage of short media on Instagram and TikTok.
Use New Platforms
There was a time when Facebook dominated social media and you could reach a wider range of people. But most younger audiences can be found using new platforms like TikTok. Research shows that the average person watches around 100 minutes of video a day across YouTube, TikTok, Instagram reels, and other social platforms.
Experts anticipate that about 30% of US Internet users will be on TikTok by 2024. This is enough proof to show that to get the younger audiences that museums seek, they must prioritize these new platforms.
Some museums leveraging these new platforms to attract younger audiences are the Museum of Neon Art, creating excellent videos on Tiktok. The Black Country Living Museum is also totally killing it on TikTok with its captivating videos.
Build a community
The 2020 Community Industry Trends Report says that 88% of community professionals believe community is critical to the company’s mission. This also relates to museums as communities provide better engagement with members.
A community platform creates a two-way conversation between you and your customer, partner, or members. Also, it should be noted that engagement rates are much higher in online communities than on social media sites, as social media creates a lot of distractions. The younger generation is not looking to interact with an organization. They are looking to speak with each other.
So for museums to attract younger audiences, they are advised to build a community where visitors can meet and connect. To make it interactive, they can also hire moderators and community managers.
The Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, for example, has been working hand in hand with its community to create exhibitions such as Lost Childhoods, among others. However, more museums need to take this path to ensure they have their share of the younger audiences they seek.
Make museums fun
Who says not to have fun? So museums must tap into this avenue and create fun experiences for museum visitors to engage the younger audiences. They can do this by organizing scavenger hunts, adventures, quizzes, and contests, among other things.
Museums like the Orsay Museum, Art et Metiers Museum, and the Louvre have been doing excellent work on this by building immersive games that tell a story to the participants keeping them spellbound.
Make them advocates
Many people like to have a sense of ownership. It drives them to produce better results. The younger generation is included in this group. So to attract a younger audience, museums can make them advocates of the brand by giving them a special membership that provides them exclusive access to certain experiences.
Also, museums can use digital collectables to give them something to take with them and show to their friends. This will attract their teeming friends and, in turn, bring more people to experience your museum.
The National Museum of American History is currently doing this by bringing in volunteer ambassadors to interact with people and bring them to experience the museum. When more museums adopt this, they’re sure to get younger audiences to come and experience their museums.
The younger generation is important to the continued relevance of museums and to ensure they stay culturally relevant. So, museums must continue to work hard to invent, innovative, and find ways to engage and attract a younger audience. This way, they’ll be the true propagators of museums’ immersive and educative experiences.