Getting visitor donations in an increasingly cashless world

National Museums Scotland experience with cashless donations

Cashless and contactless payment transactions are rapidly increasing. Some charities are already using cashless devices to get donations. Now National Museums Scotland are experimenting with a cashless donations box and have summarised their experience in a case study.

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Art by text message

How SFMOMA is opening up its art collection to a wide public

Text a word (for example a mood, colour or item) or an emoji to the gallery and you receive an image of a related artwork in response. This is the “Send Me” concept developed by the digital team at SFMOMA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, that went viral with 3.7 million texts sent in a month at its peak.

A great concept that works on many levels:

  • It is a way to share more of the art collection, the majority of which is mostly in storage, given the continuously growing collections of museums.
  • Using a popular medium like txt messaging makes it simple and approachable.
  • The artworks are among your text messages, which feels more like you are communicating with a friend – a personal experience and part of everyday life.
  • Words, colours, items or emojis, anything from the literal to the more philosophical works. Using everyday words rather than specialised art historical or curatorial terms or relying on knowledge of certain artists makes it playful and approachable.
  • Wide reaching – an idea that went viral peaking at 3.7 million texts sent in a month for SFMOMA  and triggering significant press coverage.


The benefits and challenges of a participatory platform: Tate Exchange

The first year of Tate Exchange

One of the most exciting and forward looking developments about what the museum of the future can be is Tate Exchange: “A space for everyone to collaborate, test ideas and discover new perspectives on life, through art.”

Anna Cutler, Tate’s director of learning, talked about the first year of this experiment in her keynote at the Communicating the Museum 2017 conference.

Image: Tim Etchells 2015

In tune with youth culture

How Late at Tate is changing perceptions of a gallery visit for young people.

“Lates” are a popular way to activate museums and galleries and attract a younger audience. The social aspect and the different atmosphere at night are important triggers, but they can do much more than that. As part of Circuit, we did some audience research with young people attending the Late at Tate programme at Tate in 2015. The most interesting finding for me was in relation to young people developing their identity and how we can support that. Here is a link to the posts.

Circuit was a four-year national UK programme to “connect young people and galleries to spark change”, working in partnership with the youth and cultural sector across the country. Led by Tate and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, it provided opportunities for young people to steer their own learning and create cultural activity across art disciplines. The Circuit website is a wonderful repository of a lot of the learnings from the programme across the four years and across the country.


Image © Dan Weill

Nui te kōrero – the big conversation about diversity

A day exploring diversity and inclusion in the arts in NZ

I spent an inspiring day at Nui te Kōrero – the big conversation about diversity, hosted by Creative New Zealand.

Here are some of the thoughts and quotes from the various presentations, discussions and conversations that resonated most with me:

  • There is a reluctance by organisations to articulate who they serve. What does the audience need to look like in the future?
  • Organisations need to own up to who they are, what their audience and staff profile is (and linked to above – what they want it to be).
  • To change programming, but to programme work not as a diversity initiative but because it’s great work and for any audience.
  • How can we reculture commerce rather than commercialise culture?
  • Working with communities needs to be reciprocal – what does the community gain?
  • To change diversity we need to have uncomfortable conversations, get out of our comfort zone, dismantle existing structures. Embracing change.
  • To create a culture of diversity in our organisations (although I would rather call it “a culture of inclusion”).
  • But let’s not over-complicate diversity, let’s go and make it happen.
  • Diversity is personal – it is about the future we want to see.

Now I am thinking about my own practice and my clients in regards to the final question we were left with: “What will you do to advance your work in the diversity area?”



Image: © CreativeNZ

Citizens, not consumers

The shift to a more participative society

The New Citizenship Project advocates for the trend from consumers, a role that developed in the 20th century, to 21st century citizens. This shift influences how we see ourselves – reactive or taking an active role – as well as how we treat others – whether we ‘sell’ to them or offer ways to participate in our institutions and society as a whole. A compelling idea.
At Tate we worked with NCP on the future of membership project, how to move from a transactional to a more connected, participative relationship with Tate Members. 

Can art make a difference to society?

Tate is taking a new approach to activate audiences through art

Tate Exchange is…

“A space for everyone to collaborate, test ideas and discover new perspectives on life, through art.”

It further developes the Tate brand from democratising access to art, later provoking dialogue about art, to now activating people through art.

The annual Tate Exchange programme brings together artists, partners from within and beyond the arts, and audiences. With its main hub in the new Tate Modern it also spans activities at the other galleries and has a digital strand. The theme in its first year is exchange itself.

In the initial months Tate led programme with artists and the public, now the partners from the arts, health, education and charitable sectors take over and run a participatory programme of workshops, activities and debates.

Art not for arts sake but art to trigger thoughts, emotions, conversations and more about life – an inspiring new approach by Tate. I can’t wait to hear more about how it is going.

@TateExchange #TateExchange


Transformation or Bust

When Hustling Tickets and Contributions is Just Not Cutting it Anymore

A thought-provoking keynote by Diana Ragsdale about how embracing the market will move arts organisations further away from meaningfully connecting with communities. She calls for transformative engagement “meaning engagement with the community that changes the way your organization thinks and what it does”and offers 5 ways to achieve this:

  • Let the community back in.
  • Practice radical hospitality.
  • Be the kitchen table, be the camp fire.
  • Focus on impact rather than size.
  • Create scaffolds of meaning-making rather than money-making.

She suggests to ponder this question sometime:
“What are you laboring for that transcends your organization and your position within it—what values, goals, or progress in the world? Indeed, what are we all laboring for in the arts? What’s the change we want to see?”

Outside In

Why what happens ‘out there’ is as important to museums as what happens ‘in here’

A wonderful talk about the opportunities for museums in increasingly divisive societies: Tony Butler, Executive Director of Derby Museums Trust at MuseumNext New York in November 2016.
Museums have the opportunity to “…be a midwife for a common story to emerge that puts the defence of global connection, racial tolerance and gender equality at its heart”.

New book: The Art of Relevance

The important, inspirational and highly readable new book by the inimitable Nina Simon.

The important, inspirational and highly readable new book by the inimitable Nina Simon. It explores how museums can matter more – by understanding their (desired) audience and what matters to them to open more doors and invite more people into our organisations.

Read more about The Art of Relevance