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Two Resources to Help Meet Your Museum Challenges

July 11, 2012

By Nicole Nathan

Last week was my first week in a new museum/heritage/collections role, and again I’m finding that the challenges we all face as organizations who serve the public are those same familiar ones: getting visitors in the door, making the most of what we already do (hint: don’t do more; rather do more to bring attention to what you are already doing), and predicting what will be successful.

Since we’re all asking a lot of the same questions, there are bound to be some resources that can help us out. While you may have to search for them, there are publications, blogs, and places to go. One such resource is something I found recently: TrendsWatch 2012 from the American Association of Museums’ Center for the Future of Museums (CFM). TrendsWatch 2012 has some interesting tidbits to apply, even if not all are applicable to your particular situation. For example, a personal favorite take from TrendsWatch 2012 about crowdsourcing:

You can also sign up for CFM’s weekly e-blast blog to see the latest news, trends, projections and tools for museum futurists.

A blog I regularly follow for inspiration, new ideas, and reports on what participatory museums can be is written by Nina Simon. The assertion on her blog, Museum 2.0, is this: “I believe that museums have the potential to undergo a similar (r)evolution as that on the web, to transform from static content authorities to dynamic platforms for content generation and sharing. I believe that visitors can become users, and museums central to social interactions.”

One of Nina’s most recent posts is a report on her position as Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History in California. She has held the position for a year, and shares her findings on increased attendance and whether they are event-driven, exhibition-driven, and why. And as if she was reading my mind, Nina’s post on Museum 2.0 from last week featured a new resource on arts engagement. Check it out and see what you think.

Both of these resources help museum, heritage, and arts forecast the future and what trends and metrics are telling us about visitors. If you have more resources, be sure to post them in the comments below.

Nicole Nathan is the Curator of Collections at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, principal of Claret Associates, and Chair of the Registrars Committee Western Region.

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