Many of us are attracted to Museums because of the way they feed our curiosity and interests. We understand that giving people insights into and context around those interests help us to make sense of our own world. It helps us be inspired to learn, change what we think and, as a result, what we do. And that means that, as museum professionals, we are often people who are curious about our own practice and the wider museum world.
This is critical when we develop strategy as we seek to broaden our understanding of what is possible. One of the ways we feed this professional curiosity is through case studies. But although museums share similar characteristics, there is also diversity – in location, audience, structure, collection and finances. We can get overwhelmed with case studies – particularly at conferences – that look like they address one or two of those elements but often what we hear is how they aren’t quite right for our own challenges.
With this in mind, we developed a framework for inspiration for the BMT strategy team – a set of questions to allow the team to focus in the right areas, with the right amount of detail for their needs.
The questions were:
- How can data-driven decision making transform our organisation?
- How might we use digital technologies to offer the greatest value to our communities?
- How might we support digital technologies to meet the needs and motivations of audiences that represent our local population?
- How might we use digital technologies to support long-term sustainability to our organisation?
- How might we harness and promote constructive creativity?
We had two opportunities to use this:
- MuseumNext Digital Summit
An online conference where organisations share case studies on the innovative digital activity they’ve been carrying out over the last 12 months
The good news was that timing was on our side and the week before we began our strategic work just happened to be MuseumNext Digital Summit and Linda Spurdle had made the smart choice of buying organisational access to the conference. (As an aside, Linda and I first met at MuseumNext in Newcastle back in 2009!)
We curated a list of sessions that addressed the research questions to enable them to listen and dig deeper into what was important for them right now.
- Internal Inspiration sessions
These were specially commissioned interviews with people from both inside and outside the sector focusing on projects that take a strategic approach to digital experiences, services and products.
For these sessions, we wanted to give the team a chance to get more bespoke and intimate insight that isn’t possible in a conference presentation. We wanted people to speak about their strategic approach to different areas of digital activity. We were looking for a balance of hard truths and positive but realistic outcomes. The video interviews were supported with live Q&A sessions with the participants.
You can take a look at the videos below:
We had Lawrence Chiles from National Gallery, London talking about their work becoming a more data-driven organisation and the impact it is having on their approach to audiences and income generation.
We spoke to Jenn Phillips-Bacher about her work at Wellcome Collection about the development of a user centred, data driven approach to digital on-site and online.
Michelle Melendez from Leaf Partners and Cafe Con Leche Collaborative spoke about what it takes to create and develop strategic partnerships with funders and donors based on a shared purpose or social impact.
In addition, Pete Law from Flying Objects talked about an online first approach to connecting with communities – seeking out existing online communities, connecting with them where they are, honouring and working with them to inform programmes and physical installations. He asked the team a great question about “What would it feel like to make the audience feel ‘seen’?”
You can see case studies of the relevant Flying Objects projects here: