Embracing 21st Century Audience Engagement (Case Study: Hennepin History Museum)

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Is your museum going through a growth spurt?  Many museums are embracing new visions of the future – where they are not only active members of their communities, but are also spaces where their community is actively engaged with each other and the museum.  A key part of this transformation is embracing younger audiences – like millennials.  But how can museums effectively embrace this new generation, especially on a budget?

Hennepin History Museum is in the middle of a period of massive growth.  Having double their attendance and bottom line within one year, their transformation into a museum of the future is happening at a rapid pace.  Hennepin knew that a key part of their new vibe would be attracting millennials and fostering long-term relationships with the next generation of supporters.   They turned to the experts in millennial engagement: Museum Hack!

Hennepin History Museum ready for Museum Hack!

Small Tweaks = Big Results

Ethan Angelica traveled to Hennepin History Museum to discuss our methodology, brainstorm new ideas, and give the staff practical tips and techniques for engaging millennials.  During our one-day visit, Ethan toured the museum, learning about what the museum was currently doing and where they needed new ideas for transforming their space.  We brainstormed about young patrons programs and marketing strategies that target millennial audiences with Hennepin staff. 

Next, we toured the museum, demonstrating and discussing small tweaks in Hennepin’s exhibit experiences that will yield more interactivity with a tech twist.  Finally, we conducted a presentation for staff from nearby history museums and organizations, introducing them to our methodology and discussing a few tips and tricks to help them infuse their institutions with new ideas.

Ethan with Hennepin History staff at a roundtable discussion
Ethan discussing audience engagement strategies with Hennepin staff. Image courtesy Hennepin History Museum.

At the end of the day, everyone was exhausted but excited!  As Ethan stated,

“It’s exhilarating to be working with a vibrant, innovative museum while they are in growth mode.  We were able to share our best practices for creating young patrons programs, optimizing digital marketing, and creating programming specifically for new, younger audiences.  Through it all, our focus was on giving Hennepin staff specific, actionable steps for continuing their transformation and bringing in their target millennial audience – and that’s the kind of work Museum Hack loves to do.”

Hennepin staff loved it!  We were so happy to see their tweets throughout the day, and that our discussions were already inspiring new ideas.

“Today’s awesome: Inspiring presentation by Ethan from Museum Hack, and great connection with staff at Bell Museum.” – Becka Rahn, Hennepin History Museum

“Awesome talk, even better ideas. Looking forward to future collaborations.” – Bell Museum of Natural History via Twitter

Check out this great testimonial from Cedar Phillips of Hennepin History Museum about our time together:

We had an amazing time at Hennepin and can’t wait to see how they put all their new ideas into practice.  Their transformation is truly inspiring and full of great takeaways for museums of all shapes and sizes. 

Ready to transform your institution’s audience engagement? Find out about our consulting work with museums, or email us at [email protected] to learn more about how we can help your staff discover new tools and methods for successful audience engagement.

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