Last week the founder and CEO of Museum Hack, Nick Gray, gave a talk at The Conference in Malmö, Sweden. The main focus was about how storytelling can transform a museum’s experience to re-engage audiences. The Conference focused on three main themes: human behavior, new technology and how to make innovation happen. It was a great opportunity to share perspectives and transform the way we collectively look at storytelling in the museum.
In the talk, Nick covered key topics, such as:
- What modern audiences love;
- How to use storytelling in the museum;
- How gossip, games and guides make our tours different; and
- Why entertainment needs to come before education
How To Turn a Museum Tour Into a Museum Adventure
The following is a snippet from Nick’s talk:
What we’re providing here is not a museum tour, this is a museum adventure, right? People today, this is the ADD generation, I’m on my phone every two to three minutes, that’s what we have to compete with.
Have you ever been at a museum and instead of looking at the art, maybe after twenty or thirty minutes, instead of thinking about the art and how the art affects you, you start to think about how a cup of coffee would affect you. Or a big glass of wine.
That’s a real thing, ladies and gentlemen, it’s called “museum fatigue.” And we’ve developed some activities and exercises to combat that, “fatigue fighting exercises.” We will do yoga in the modern and contemporary gallery. We will run up the stairwells. We will pass out candy in the hallways. We’ll have a big glass of wine on our nighttime tours. We’ll do shots of espresso.
We’ll do whatever we need to do to keep you engaged. Because that’s what’s really really important for us.
Taking pictures at the museums: it’s a very controversial subject. We love to take pictures on our tours, we encourage selfies. Because let’s be honest you look awesome in a museum.
We do a lot of these activities and games to move fast, but my favorite part of the tours has to be the last one: gossip. Gossip is the juicy backstories, that happen when we tell people about the art. We think that today’s audiences need to be entertained before they can be educated.”
-Nick Gray, Founder and CEO of Museum Hack
We keep interaction high on our tours: we take photos, play games, offer challenges and get the guests talking. This not only beats back boredom, but gets the guest to recognize themes, and to think critically about what they are seeing. We encourage them to choose what they like, and talk about what they don’t. It offers them ownership of an object, and it gives them something to share.
We tell amazing stories about art. Before our guides can become full fledged hosts, they have to create a completely original tour: this means they have to dig through the collection, and find their own stories. And they love to pick the underdogs, those works in corners and halls that you would never expect to have amazing stories. We also revisit highlights, and use our brand of “reverent irreverence” to make them approachable, engaging and incredibly interesting.
The feedback from the talk was very enthusiastic! Here were some of our favorite tweets:
— Joanna Peña-Bickley (@jojobickley) August 19, 2015
— Carsten Rossi (@rossi_kkundk) August 19, 2015
— Laura Forné Elkow (@LauraElkow) August 19, 2015
— Louise Sloth Madsen (@Louise_madsen) August 19, 2015
The New Age of Innovation in the Museum Industry
Malmö, Sweden is one of the world’s most innovative cities, and the conference celebrated innovators from a variety of different fields: from brain scientists to activists to marketing experts and cool makers, and explored how they are changing the way people think globally.
When it comes to our tours, we are innovating on the the museum experience. A lot of our ideas and techniques aren’t brand new; they’re familiar to the museum world. But the way we offer accessibility and relevance is changing the game. By being interactive, keeping our groups small and personal, using social media, and being genuinely passionate about what we are talking about: we are changing audience’s perspectives.
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Do you work for a museum, or do you want to talk about engaging new museum goers? We would love to work with you. Find out more about our consulting work with museums, or email us to open up a conversation about working together.