Did it take a crisis to make better content?

Insights from Tate and the V&A

The digital directors of Tate and the Victoria & Albert Museum discussed digital content in an excellent session of the MuseumNext Digital Summit 2021. They offered insights into how their organisations work on content and the challenges created by the pandemic.

I found the following considerations particularly interesting:

  • Think about why people are engaging.
    This has important implications for deciding whether and how digital can deliver this and the suitable formats for it. In public programmes people want a learning experience but also a social experience – for example, in physical life going to a talk with a friend is about the talk as well as spending time with the friend.

  • Digital audiences want content when it suits them, not when it suits you.
    While the strength of physical events or exhibitions (or a live streamed event) is the call-to-action they provide by being on a specific date/time, the benefit of digital is that you can have it on demand and thereby widen the audience. And while live event (real live or live streamed) offer the benefit of the additional social experience, even big live streaming events with high production values that large organisations such as Tate (with sponsor support) can deliver, had more visits on demand than live.

  • Digital media works best when you use it to do things that you can’t do in physical spaces.
    The V&A, for example, found that ASMR (Auto Sensory Meridian Response – when hearing a sound makes people feel a sensation) works well. They developed videos of conservation activities with high resolution sound recording, which would be hard to offer in a physical space.

  • Be very clear of your purpose and mission as your north star.
    Think about how digital can bring this mission to life in its own way – not replicating the gallery experience or competing with it, but as a different encounter or layer.

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Author: sabine.doolin

Strategy consultant working with the cultural sector

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