How Promoting your Exhibition can Boost Visitor Experience
It’s the buzzword on every curator and museum marketer’s lips: visitor experience. I’ve already written about the importance of visitor experience, especially concerning why having immersive, accessible exhibitions allows visitors to museums and galleries to truly enjoy the artworks.
However, today I want to zoom in on how institutions can boost their visitor experience. A struggle for many institutions is miscommunication surrounding who they are, what they have to offer, why the public should visit, and how to get started when visiting a museum or gallery. Colin Mulburg of Colin Mulburg Consulting, a visitor experience specialist consultancy, even says that, ‘venues need to make it clear to visitors what they will gain from their visit and how it will match their interests.’
A fair point! But how can this be done? A lot of the time, the answer is simple: effective, 360 promotion. A well-promoted exhibition—one that is informative, accessible, comes with striking accompanying texts, catalogues, and a pristine online marketing campaign—can drastically enhance visitor experience and motivate your audience to rush back to your doors (while social distancing, of course). Here’s why.
Actually, exposure to exhibition promotion allows viewers to become familiar with the show before even attending. Subway posters, magazine advertisements, online marketing strategies, social media presence—all these factors can contribute to engraining the DNA of a show into visitors’ minds. Is the exhibition historical? Entertaining? Conceptual? Thematic?
Keep this in mind, as the aesthetics, display and execution of promotional materials should be aimed towards your target audience. Exposure to these posters and social media ads will get viewers thinking before they’ve even stepped foot in the show.
And, during these times, it’s also important to let them know what measures you’ve put into place for their well-being.
Then, when they finally visit the exhibition, they can come with a sense of excitement and expectation, while feeling completely safe.
A crucial goal for any successful exhibition is connecting the artworks with the audience. Wall texts are a great tool for this, and those that are informative, engaging, and draw the viewer into the world of the artist enhance understanding and interpretation of the works of art.
In fact, the V&A themselves have even published an extensive guide about how to produce effective gallery text and wall labels to boost visitor experience. They can aid the viewer’s interpretation, and garner new-found appreciation for an artwork they may have previously found obtuse, or difficult to understand.
If a seasoned visitor is reading the wall text, it gives them an opportunity to critically think about the artwork. Do they agree with the texts accompanying the show? It’s okay if not! But the point of the written content is to serve everything from stimulating critical thinking, to simply helping the viewer understand the artwork better.
Looking to make the most of museum labels?
MuseumNext also have a thorough article on the question!
Bringing Artworks to Life!
Of course, another key (and perhaps the most important!) benefit of promoting your exhibition in an impactful way is to distribute content that brings the artworks to life. Experienced exhibition-goers often come to a show to develop or discover a connection with a work of art or artist.
What information can be provided that they may not have considered before? Is there a secret story or personal touch to the artwork or artist’s life that the visitor can relate to?
Indeed, for people who do not visit museums or galleries that often, this is a new demographic that you can access and connect with. See your promotional material as an opportunity to peak interest in art world newcomers. The images and text used should always be easy, accessible and enjoyable to encounter. The key to tapping into a new audience is to tell the story of the works in a way that is relatable to them.
Wall texts, catalogues, and audio guides are fantastic tools for this, and can really help all manner of visitors fall in love with the artworks on show.
There’s one extra thing that institutions should implement that employs all three of these important qualities of nurturing familiarity, aiding understanding and bringing works to life in order to boost visitor experience, and that’s translation, for instance. (No surprises there.) It’s true!
Indeed, once you have spent time and effort into creating gorgeous texts to promote an exhibition, you need to think about how to distribute these materials to as wide an audience as possible. This includes tourists and visitors from abroad, who are much more likely to connect with a show when it is beautifully written in their own language.
As a result, knowledgeable artistic wording by a specialised translator, and a sense of cultural sensitivity in the text, allows viewers to tap into their creative thinking and feel more cultured and positive. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to deprive your foreign guests of this special feeling! Translated texts are therefore an essential aspect of cultivating an exceptional visitor experience.