I spend a lot of time thinking about what brings people to museums and what keeps others away and I’ve come to realize it all comes down to perception.
For those who go often, they probably perceive museums as an intellectual or creative necessity or simply a social value-add. For those who never go, they probably think of museums as a boring place pretentious old people go to die.
Well museums are all of the above…and a lot more! Reintroducing them to audiences young and old is the key to renewing engagement.
Unlike most other places you can spent part of your day, the best thing about museums is you get to define the experience. Looking to brush up on your Cubism, get coffee, impress a hot date or just to get away from it all, museums have evolved to combine the creative dose we need with the experience we seek.
And you can be sure that whatever temporary exhibition is showing while you’re there is going to be of the highest quality.
But museums have an entitlement problem which is why they’re terrible at competing for our attention and changing perceptions. They seem to think they’re at the top of everyone’s list of things to do, and by everyone I’m not talking about tourists who have their short list of must-sees. I’m talking about local audiences who have a dozen things they could be doing at any given time and aren’t feeling a sense of urgency to get to a museum they know will be there next week, next month and next year.
So next time you think about going to the museum, forget all that bullshit about going to find inspiration and become more empathetic (it’s actually not bullshit but all that comes on its own once you’re there). Go to the museum because it’s an amazing venue that gives you the option to be alone, accompanied, self-centered, open-minded, curious, fixated, dismissive, to take a few selfies and get your creative dose, or just a cup of coffee and a good meal.
It’s an experience that rivals most others and there are no rules for how to spend your time, aside from don’t touch the art and be considerate of those around you.