Museum Connections 2017 | Recap & Trends

Cuberis had the pleasure of saying “Bonjour!” to Paris at the Museum Connections 2017 conference in January. The conference brought together the best in museums and business and showcased a wide array of trends and innovations. We’ve brought back ideas from sessions that piqued our interest, ranging in topics from business model innovation, cultural entrepreneurship and growth in China, to augmented reality and beacon technology.

Innovating Business Models for Future Success

As museums face the challenges of decreasing government funding and increasing competition for people’s leisure time, the need to innovate is growing in importance. Julie Aldridge of the UK’s Art Marketing Association described how museums are using the Business Model Canvas to find new revenue sources, stay relevant, and create value. In order to be well-positioned for the future, museums should be going through business model innovation exercises on a regular basis and not waiting until they are in crisis mode. See case-studies, articles and examples on the AMA’s website.

Cultural Entrepreneurship and Barriers to Innovation

Adriaan Donszelmann walked us through “Cultural Entrepreneurship”, the Van Gogh Museum’s strategy in response to funding cuts and other pressures. The museum went through an interesting process of adding business model innovation to their vision statement and strategic pillars (accessibility, reach, and income), while staying true to their mission. Some of the services now offered by the museum include restoration and authentication of works in collections outside of the museum, museum design and build services, and the training of staff for new museums. These new revenue sources highlighted a point of tension for some museums in countries where they are legally barred from participating in for-profit activities, even if those profits go to new exhibits and furthering the museum’s mission. This is a challenge that museums in France, for example, are working hard to overcome.

Growth Opportunities in China

China kept popping up in many of the presentations at Museum Connections; with good reason since the number of museums in China grew 60% from 2009 to 2014 with room left for growth. This represents opportunities for new partnerships and business relationships, like the soon to be open V&A Gallery at Design Society in Shenzhen and increasing the exchange of exhibitions with China such as those taking place between the Three Gorges Museum and the National Museum Cardiff. The growth of museums in China has also led to increased demand in museum staff training programs and exchanges of expertise in the domains of museum building and planning; services which museums in Europe are providing.

Promise of Augmented Reality and Enhanced Beacons

The latest in museum technology from some of Europe’s most promising startups was on hand at MC17. Tech that jumped out at us included Histovery’s Histopad which uses augmented reality to let visitors experience castles and rooms as they were hundreds of years ago (like Marie Antoinette’s prison cell), and interact with objects and areas that are usually off-limits. Startup Monalitag created a tag that can be placed on artwork and combines sensors, RFID, and beacon technology. This allows museum visitors to interact with artwork while enabling museum staff to track, secure, and monitor artwork for things like temperature and humidity.

Exciting Times Ahead

We’d like to thank everyone that presented and attended MC17. It’s exciting to be part of the evolution of museums and we are more energized than ever to continue our work crafting websites for museums and bringing life, digitally, to their missions!