Posted: March 7th, 2013 | Author: Jasper Visser | Filed under: Thoughts about museums | Tags: aspiration, audience, branding, identity, marketing, target audiences | 6 Comments »
Photo by Francesca Palazzi on Flickr.
Occasionally, it’s good to take a step back from all the insiders’ discussions about the future of museum and their role in society and look at what ordinary people have to say about that. I feel at times there’s a disconnect between the museum discourse and my everyday experience with ordinary people about what they want from museums.
Take for instance the ordinary people who write the great series ‘Authors on museums’ in my favourite magazine Intelligent Life. Almost every one of these authors reflects in their essay on the intrinsic value of the collection of the museum. Plus, most of them see the museum they describe as a place to escape to (Sanctum in the City). It is a place that defines them as individuals and a place full of memories of family and friendship, love and life (Palais of the Dolls). It is a place for private memories (The Odessaphiles).
Through the eyes of the authors, museums are a dream world. A museum is not reality. A museum is a place that appeals to the imagination with (self)discovery, beautiful collections, peace and quite…
The aspirational 14%
Given, these authors aren’t as ordinary people as John Doe is ordinary people. Nevertheless, they represent and write for an audience that is very much a museum audience. Intelligent Life is written for a group of society I’ve recently read being referred to as ‘the aspirational 14%’. In context, the 14% of people aspiring to one day own a Patek Philippe (as opposed to the 1% that actually will). These are the people that look up, hope, dream. In the words of Oscar Wilde, those in the gutter looking at the stars. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 4th, 2013 | Author: Jasper Visser | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: amsterdam, ignite, museumnext, presentations, sign up | No Comments »
Photo by Mari Ce on Flickr.
MuseumNext, Europe’s biggest conference on innovation in museums, is just over 2 months away (12-14 May, Amsterdam). This year you’ll have the opportunity to join the many great speakers on stage in a high-energy and inspirational Ignite session! I’ll be curating the session (with some help) and would love to start collecting your suggestions.
If you’re coming to Amsterdam, please take this opportunity to share your story with an audience of enthusiastic peers. Sign up using the Google form.
Rules of the game
- You’ll need a MuseumNext badge to get in. Register now!
- An Ignite talk is 20 slides, 15 seconds per slide, auto advance. That’s 5 minutes to share your story. Watch some examples to see how this goes.
- I will reserve some spots for different format presentations (video, personal story) as long as they are under 5 minutes long.
- Selling from the stage is OK, as long as you sell fresh ideas, new insights, funny anecdotes, indecent proposals or anything else that is of genuine value to the audience. Project or product presentations preferably zoom in on a noteworthy detail.
- Your presentation will be run from a central computer that has Powerpoint and keynote installed.
- Deadline for submissions: 14 April, 2013.
- I’ll let you know before 21 April, 2013 if you’re in.
I have fond memories of every Ignite session I’ve been part of and made many friends because of them. If you want, we can do a test run prior to the conference (as long as it’s in Amsterdam:-) ).
Please share this message with your friends. See you in May!
Some great Museum Ignite Talks (share your favs in the comments):
Posted: February 26th, 2013 | Author: Jasper Visser | Filed under: Buildings, Thoughts about museums | Tags: alternatives, building, ideas, location | 2 Comments »
Photo by Alex T. on Flickr.
Virgin Atlantic has created an in-flight gallery for its business class passengers. And why not? Buildings are expensive, often have at best a local reach and need to be cleaned and painted all the time. There are better options. Following up on a popular posts from lightyears ago* about what a museum could be as well, today I’d like to reflect on where a museum could be.
(By the way, I do hope the magnificent Air and Space Museum near the airport in Washington opens an in-flight gallery soon, which would be the coolest Droste trick ever.)
- Hotel rooms. (Good people at MuseumNext last year thought of an app to do so.)
- The central train station in Utrecht, the Netherlands, which is probably the world’s worst place to be, full of empty space and stuff put there by the municipality to enlighten the lives of travellers which it utterly fails to do.
- Any airport, not just Amsterdam Airport (where you can visit the Rijksmuseum and until recently science centre Nemo, now replaced by a juice bar).
- Malls and shopping centres.
- My living room with its enormous white walls I will one day fill with art but haven’t yet had the money for.
- Supermarkets (as long as you can sell parts of your collection).
- Empty shop displays as is being done in many places around the world. (My favourite at the moment, and I’m completely biased because I worked on the project: Van Gogh in Amsterdam.)
- The walls and windows of unused buildings, as Candy Chang does with many of her installations.
- Forgotten, unused railway tunnels. (R.I.P. Old Vic Tunnels.)
- Anywhere people queue.
What about you? What is the most extraordinary place you have seen (or can imagine) a museum?
* I know a lightyear is a measure for distance, not time, I really do.
Posted: January 21st, 2013 | Author: Jasper Visser | Filed under: People | Tags: advice, colleagues, communication, future, hiring, job description, skills, storytelling, work | 13 Comments »
Photo by marcus_jb1973 on Flickr.
Update: Do you feel you fit into the profile below (and are you fluent in Dutch)? You might want to check out this internship/job opportunity at a new startup I’m involved in.
We’re looking for: People that help museums stay relevant in the 21st century. Job title: community manager, digital engagement officer, online marketeer, audience curator, hands-on project manager, educator (etc. etc.). Your profile: hmm…
In general, the debate on ‘21st century skills’ or – put differently – what we expect in terms of skills, attitudes, behaviour and knowledge from future colleagues is diverse and inspiring. In the museum-context, it might even be more complicated. Studying various reports of such skills (etc.), such as the excellent Museums, Libraries and 21st Century Skills (PDF) and a Dutch one by Kennisnet, most of the focus is on skills that help people design the future. Museums, obviously, and museum professionals also play an important role in maintaining the past. This duality is obvious in the ICOM definition:
A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development (‘future’), open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches (‘past’), communicates and exhibits (‘future’) the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education (‘future’), study (‘past’) and enjoyment (‘future’).
Note that I use ‘future’ and ‘past’ to make a distinction between the internal, traditional role of a museum and the outgoing, also-traditional-but-now-key-to-receiving-funds role that can be considered to focus on the future of the institution.
As museums realise they need to evolve in order to stay relevant, within them a continuous debate begins between the ‘past’ and the ‘future’. And, as much as the ‘traditional’ museum professionals need to be comfortable with the 21st century, the future professionals need to be comfortable with the traditional role of museums in society, which is probably why maybe the number 1 question I get from clients and at conferences is to help define a profile for the future museum professional. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 7th, 2013 | Author: Jasper Visser | Filed under: Thoughts about museums | Tags: audiences, content, curating, digital, research, storytelling, technology | 2 Comments »
Photo by Thomas Hawk.
A recent Pew Report (thanks for the link, Marco Derksen) about arts organisations and digital technologies among 1,244 organisations says ‘77% of respondents agree with the statement that the internet has “played a major role in broadening the boundaries of what is considered art.”’ 78% believes these technologies are “very important” for increasing audience engagement. 97% has a social media presence (and the stats go on). At the same time the Economist in an article on the online art market says, “It is hard to imagine that the internet could dislodge art galleries and institutions from their exalted status, sustained, to some extent, by exclusivity and elitism.”
To me, this sort of contradiction is a pretty good summary of the state of museum AD 2013. We’ve understood we need to change, we’ve changed (some more successfully than others) and we’re still a bit at loss about the bigger picture.
2012 has in many ways been a good year. Around the world (and also in my own little country) museums have launched smart websites and fun apps. My favourite development were those brave souls who put objects online to be 3D printed at home. I can’t back this up, but I’m sure never before have our collections been as accessible as they are right now. Plus, I’m noticing more and more organisations working together on innovative projects, sharing experiences and knowledge. My hopes for 2013 are high. Read the rest of this entry »