Discussing Audience Engagement at NEMA 2015

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Consulting November 16, 2015 Featured Image

In early November 2015, Ethan and Kate attended the New England Museum Association conference on “The Language of Museums.” Ethan and Kate gave a talk about what we do at Museum Hack, demonstrated our audience engagement techniques, and discussed how to attract and engage Millennial audiences in museum spaces.

They also attended lots of great sessions, networked with awesome museum professionals, and even got a taste of Portland.  We interviewed Ethan and Kate about how it went and their favorite parts of the NEMA conference.  Read below to find out more.

NEMA 2015 Museum Hack presentation room

What was your favorite session?

Kate: The Objects & Emotion session with Linda Norris and Rainey Tisdale. I really liked that they were talking about how objects create emotional bonds for people. Objects can bring up lots of reactions and emotions. Museums should be designing for this, and utilizing the “soft science” as well as the hard facts typically given in labels to help visitors bond with objects and the museum through various emotional responses, like empathy. It’s what we deal with so closely, and a gap we fill in for many museum visitors.  And I love the handout they included — it’s got lots of great resources!

Ethan: I attended a super-interesting Think Tank about reinventing the intern experience by Monika Bernotas and Alli Rico. As a group that works with a lot of young museum professionals, it was fascinating to hear the challenges around the internship experience from both the university and museum perspective. But my favorite part was the actionable steps that came out of the discussion. I know a white paper is in the works – I can’t wait to see the follow-through.

What was the best part about Museum Hack’s presentation?

Kate: Playing the matchmaker game. Demonstrating at a basic level how we do what we do. Getting museum professionals to engage their imaginations about art objects. Seeing that “fun” can be connected to the close-looking goals that museum professionals seek from audience. It’s nice to see skeptical people change their minds.

NEMA 2015 discussion with Kate

Ethan: I loved chatting with museum professionals after the session, and hearing how excited and eager they are to think about innovation around visitor engagement at their institutions. A few people summed it up best on Twitter, “Listen to our audience, and respond to them.” I hope we were able to give people pause.

What was the best restaurant you ate at in Portland?

Kate: Yosaku. It’s a terrific sushi place with an amazing lunch special.

Ethan: Hot Suppa. We had some amazing pulled pork eggs benedict. And some very strong Bloody Marys. (Don’t tell Nick!)

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