Let me be clear about one thing: Governments are making a mistake in reducing funding for museums and cultural attractions. I consider museums to be part of a progressive city’s infrastructure and a key element of the social fabric that binds communities together.
But if there is one good thing that has come out of this shifting of funding sources, it’s that it has forced cultural institutions to focus on the visitor experience. Museums have begun to recognize the importance of providing positive guest experiences from the moment someone walks in the front doors until they leave. And they’ve worked harder to give people a reason to come back.
Institutions and attractions are constantly vying for guests’ time, money and attention – and that is no easy task. But there’s a much higher chance of success when museums listen to guests, respond to their needs and utilize the latest technology and creative minds to craft engaging exhibits. All this, of course, has to happen within the museum’s mission and without sacrificing its identity.
In this issue of InPark, we examine a variety of ways that the museum and attractions markets are seeking out new and better methods of engaging with their guests. Because at the end of the day, if people stop coming through the front doors, there’s really no reason to keep them open. • • •
Technology used to be the ugly stuff that was hard to conceal. Now it’s so sleek that equipment rooms have shrunk dramatically, your staff runs the theater from a smartphone and an immersive attraction can roadtrip from city to city. Now, you can print or project onto almost any surface. Now, e-ticketing and data mining help you serve and respond to visitors better than ever.
We exist in an envelope of technology. We take it for granted. If your visitors have a seamless experience and don’t notice the technology, that’s good. But how did it get to that point? Unique exhibitions and attractions call for unique applications of technology. Decision makers, designers and technical specialists collaborate to make that happen, and when the project is a permanent or long-term installation that has to function day-in, day-out, the challenges are greater.
As a journalist, finding out just who did the tech work can be very hard to discover. Surprisingly often, the media relations person at a facility does not know. They are focused on building public awareness – on getting people in the door. But those very doors might not open, nor the shows run, the interactives play nor the wayfinding communicate, without the customized systems from the expertise of many design and tech specialists.
Why should a museum PR person help us get the information we need to write those stories? Why, in fact, write them at all? Because it leads to more good projects. It lets the people behind the curtain come out and take a bow, and it helps YOU find them for your next project.
Take technology for granted – but not technology experts. • • •
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