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Museum Matrix®. A Tool to Promote Museums in the Age of Audience Orientation.

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Museum Matrix®. A Tool to Promote Museums in the Age of Audience Orientation.

Abstract and Figures

We are living in an age of self-optimization. This applies to both individuals and to institutions. As sites of social discourse, museums exist between the business world and the cultural sector. To improve their profile, strengthen their brand and offer programs that attract an audience, it is helpful to compare a museum to other institutions. This way, museums may learn from competitors and the leaders of the market. The most successful museums effectively profile, position and communicate their unique defining feature. This is what Museum Matrix® is made for. Museum Matrix® is: • a method to sharpen analytics • a tool to determine the structure of comparison between institutions • a quantified and qualified approach to analysis.
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Matthias Henkel PhD Page 1 of 10
Museum Matrix
®
A Tool to Promote Museums
in the Age of Audience Orientation
1
Matthias Henkel PhD
Member of the Board of Directors,
Center for Audience Development,
Freie Universität Berlin and
CEO, Embassy of Culture
1. Introduction
We are living in an age of self-optimization. This applies to
both individuals and to institutions. As sites of social
discourse, museums exist between the business world and the
cultural sector. To improve their profile, strengthen their
brand and offer programs that attract an audience, it is
helpful to compare a museum to other institutions. This way,
museums may learn from competitors and the leaders of the
market.
The most successful museums effectively profile, position and
communicate their unique defining feature. This is what Museum
Matrix® is made for.
1
The concept of Museum Matrix® was first presented as a paper at the annual
conference of ICOM in Berlin, Germany in October 2016. This article is, in
fact, an evolved version of that paper. At the German Patent and Trade Mark
Office (DPMA), a trademark application for Museum Matrix® was made under
number 30 2016 034 145.
Matthias Henkel PhD Page 2 of 10
Museum Matrix® is:
a method to sharpen analytics
a tool to determine the structure of comparison between
institutions
a quantified and qualified approach to analysis.
2. Big Data and Cultural Performance
2
At the moment, big data is a keyword in many different fields.
It is most used in relation to business and consumer research.
But why not use potential big data analytics to study the
indications for the performance of a museum in the cultural
field? If we want to improve the performance of museums, we
have to be aware of the environment they’re operating in. What
factors are we dealing with?
Complexity and Location
Besides its collection and programs, the success of a
museum also depends on the socio-economic background of
its surrounding region. Another aspect to consider is the
museum’s accessibility via public transport.
Institutional Continuity and Financial Stability
If the museum is part of a company (or corporation), its
continuity depends on the success of the company it is
linked to.
Lack of Business Thinking
In the cultural field, the business aspect of an
institution is often overlooked.
3. The Objectives
Museums - nowadays develop beyond simply pedagogical
learning; comprehensive knowledge and the teaching of skills
are valued more than the delivery of hard facts. Therefore,
museums must:
Improve their extracurricular activities that support
learning through discovery.
Increase awareness of their programs by developing and
sharpening their brand-based communication.
2
Marvin Carlson: Performance: A Critical Introduction. Second edition.
Routledge. New York/London 2003.
http://www.yavanika.org/classes/reader/carlsonperformance.pdf
http://writingproject.fas.harvard.edu/files/hwp/files/peformance_studies.pdf
Matthias Henkel PhD Page 3 of 10
Get people involved; it is necessary for museums to
communicate in a way that appeals to visitors’ emotions
and stay relevant to the everyday life of the audience.
Think about new cultural formats to reach new audiences:
exhibitions are a museum’s main product but not its only
one.
Last but not least: Museums have to explore the digital
space as a source and as a new space to be curated in an
authentic way
3
.
4. Museum Matrix® - Description of an
Action Plan
Step 1 - The Strategy
I will now describe how to get started on the creation of new
concepts and development of fresh inspiration for your
museum’s program:
a) Comparison is Cunning
It is always inspiring to think outside of the box.
Improve your own work by comparing it to that of another
institution.
b) Select Market Leaders
Keep your eye on the market leader the museum with an
innovative program, strategic development and a
communication strategy that closely reflects its brand.
c) Go Sightseeing
Take a closer look at your competitors. Try to see them
through the perspective of a visitor. You know the saying:
The worm must taste the fish and not the fisherman
4
.
3
Matthias Henkel: Intangible Heritage 2.0. How to collect, curate and
present the digital landscape as the new public space. Berlin/Milan 2016.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305904613_Intangible_Heritage_20_How_to_collect_curat
e_and_present_the_digital_landscape_as_the_new_public_spacePaper_presented_at_the_Joint_Sessio
n_ICFA_Museums_and_Collections_of_Fine_Arts_and_COMCOL_Collecti
4
For more information, see Clifford Geertz, Thick Description: Toward
an Interpretive Theory of Culture.
http://www.sociosite.net/topics/texts/Geertz_Thick_Description.php
Matthias Henkel PhD Page 4 of 10
Step 2 - Adequate Parameters Are Key - From the ICOM Code of
Ethics to the Big Five.
Before you can commit to this project, think about the
parameters and aspects you are interested in developing.
Define these parameters according to your own personal or
institutional objectives. Here are two basic questions to
guide you:
Where do you want to improve?
What is the purpose of your vision? Hopefully you have one
otherwise it is a good idea to think about this and
discuss it with your staff.
Your first attempt to define your parameters may follow the
ICOM Code of Ethics: collecting, preserving, researching,
presenting, educating. But does this reflect the expectations
of your visitors? Consider expanding upon the ICOM Code of
Ethics by adding more objectives to the list.
However, I like to follow the Big Five BCFPS. That is: Brand,
Collection, Facility, Program, Service. These factors account
for the entire spectrum of the museums work from the
perspective of the visitors. If helpful, it is possible to
create further subdivisions, i.e.:
BIG FIVE
SUBDIVISON
Brand
Personality5
Communication6
Collection
Quality7
Quantity
Facility
Style of architecture8
Location in the city
Program
Exhibition
Accompanying program9
Service
Third Place quality
Participation10
5
Communication is a managerial task. Therefore, the director of a museum is
responsible for representing the museum authentically.
6
Brand-based communication should be a matter of course in the non-profit
sector.
7
If the collection contains masterpieces, place them in focus. If there are
no masterpieces, include interesting and unique features in the museum’s
story.
8
The museum’s building is one of the main factors to be used for its
development the style, capacity and location in the urban space should be
taken into account.
9
Developing programs is obviously one of the core tasks of a museum
nowadays - think strategically, think collaboratively, think outside of the
box.
Matthias Henkel PhD Page 5 of 10
Again: If you have other questions or objectives you may add
to or change these items. In my point of view, the Big Five
are a good starting point to begin to develop your vision.
Step 3 Benchmarking
With regard to benchmarking, we have to distinguish between
qualitative and quantitative analyses:
a. Qualitative analysis can be used to take a closer look at
each particular feature of your museum. To describe each
feature in your own words will help you to get a deeper
understanding of the whole phenomenon and how it
functions. If you follow my recommendation, you should
summarize each of the Big Five aspects: Brand, Collection,
Facility, Program, Service.
b. Quantitative analysis makes it possible for you to compare
institutions with each other.
10
If you have a mediocre collection or if your museum’s location is a
disadvantage, you can still work on Third Place qualities (Ray
Oldenburg).
Matthias Henkel PhD Page 6 of 10
c. Evaluation grid
In order to measure the performance of museums you need a
clear evaluation grid. In my opinion, the following system
is most suitable:
Step 4 - Museum Matrix®
Once you have finished your analysis, it is time to draw a
chart to get a clearer view of the whole situation. The
following are examples of three fictitious cases.
If your rather fanciful museum profile resembles this
[Scenario 1], you may have forgotten to take the parameters of
skills (resources, budget, staff, competence) into account.
Matthias Henkel PhD Page 7 of 10
Scenario 1
If your first result looks like this [Scenario 2], you may
have chosen the wrong competitors. The red museums did
everything right the blue museum did everything wrong.
Scenario 2
The third scenario [Scenario 3] is much more interesting and
realistic. The red museum has a wonderful collection and a
perfect building but pays less attention to the quality of
service and communication.
Matthias Henkel PhD Page 8 of 10
Scenario 3
In comparison, the blue museum compensates for its weaknesses
in the area of the collection with good service, an attractive
program and better strategic communication. Most surprising is
that both museums can benefit from this comparison with each
other.
Step 5 - Learn from Each Other
To keep it short: Copy and paste is the wrong way - always.
Learning from the leaders or learning from each other as we
have seen above - means that you have to analyse the whole
situation: from basic concepts to the budget, the resources,
staff and competences.
Step 6 - Go Your Own Way
Last but not least: A concept that has been successful for one
institution will not necessarily be successful for another.
Therefore, develop our own individual and authentic concept
based on your own experience. Use your experiences as a source
of inspiration. Become conscious of your qualities and your
skills both hard and soft.
Matthias Henkel PhD Page 9 of 10
5. Megatrends
There are certain megatrends that we cannot neglect
11
. That
means if you want to implement new objectives you have to pay
attention to your social and economic environment:
- Knowledge Society (new structure of learning)
- Silver Society (we are growing older)
- New Work (work/life balance)
- Mobility (city tourism is a big pull for museums)
- New ecology
- Health (plays a big role in everyone’s life)
- Gender shift (women are coming to power)
- Security (in the age of the suicide bomber)
- Individualisation
- Urbanisation
- Globalisation
- Connectivity (not just in terms of technology but of
identity as well)
11
https://www.zukunftsinstitut.de/dossier/megatrends/
Matthias Henkel PhD Page 10 of 10
6. Conclusion
What is the intention of the Museum Matrix® concept?
The analytic view makes it possible to measure the
cultural performance of museums.
Museum Matrix® can be used as a tool to compare different
museums.
The qualitative analysis provides a basis to form
concepts and plans.
The quantitative analysis offers the possibility to
compare different institutions in a visual way.
The main idea is to think about the profile of your own
museum in a conceptual way.
In the end, Museum Matrix® represents a way to define the
brand of your museum.
Last but not least: go your own way. Act and communicate
authentically. Work hard on your individual brand
identity.
Dr. Matthias Henkel
Berlin/Germany
ceo@embassy-of-culture.com
www.embassy-of-culture.com
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