Museums and heritage sites' around world are regularly facing with how to continue to engage audiences when spaces must be closed due to renovations or exhibition change-over.
After all, such closures are aimed at upgrading spaces or, introducing new content with the intent of improving the visitors' experience.
A great example of a soon-to-come renovation is the one planned for the Grand Palais in Paris; this beautiful building will undergo a significant renovation and must be ready for its reopening before the Paris 2024 Olympic games (no pressure!). The closure is expected to take place between December 2020 and March 2023.
Among many other purposes, the primary objective is to truly modernize how the building functions, hence dramatically transform the distribution of spaces. How? by joining the very known central nave with the Palais de la Découverte, which was opened in 1937 and since then it has never been renovated.
In 1937 the Palais de la Découverte was a space conceived solely for sciences; therefore, this renovation is the occasion for museography to incorporate scientific mediation techniques, using digital elements to connect and keep in touch with young audiences.
Moreover, this renovation will give this building six additional modular exhibition halls, each space ranging about 6,458.35 Square foot each, thus larger areas to host temporary exhibitions.. ultimately enhancing their appeal to the private sector by doubling the current capacity of the nave, opening balconies, "connecting" space for various sizes or events, larger scale receptions, or smaller reception halls.
Many luxury brands such as, for example, Chanel, present their runway shows every year at the grand nave... As we can see, every square inch of space at the Grand Palais is precious in every way, and their strategy is to take advantage of all the spaces the have to offer visitors both local and international. they recognize that digital devices are the most common way visitors connect with the museum.
They understood that today's visitors use their phone for almost everything, and they have entirely directed the museum's app towards the visitors' advantage from buying tickets before visiting, getting useful information such as schedule and services to share the experience using social media.
This medium also facilitates numerous other ways of engagement such as audioguides in other languages, geolocation, AR or VR features and such; lastly, the museum to "keep in touch" with visitors about upcoming exhibits. In addition to the other media used in any museum communication strategy, this is a great way to interact with your users while the physical location is closed!
Following this topic, as you may remember from last year, our team attended the Ecsite conference; among many workshops, networking event and workshops, we had the chance to listen to a discussion about Balancing construction works and visitor satisfaction.
We heard to real cases from some European institutions, among them were: Sybill Ebers Director of the Westfälisches Pferdemuseum Münster, Dick de Jong Manager Presentation and collection for the NEMO Science Museum, Baerbel Auffermann Deputy Director for the Stiftung Neanderthal Museum and many others.
The speakers expressed how they were faced with the dilemma of how to sustain their audiences' desire to interact with the museum while they are closed (added to the time and efforts to go forward with this project ).
Many speakers addressed some remarks, and shared specific tips they learned from their experiences, such as the social media channels and museum websites' influence as a medium in capturing what motivates and interests their audiences, the power of "blogging moms" who follow the museum’s latest events.
Lastly but not least, the value of knowing basic SEO and google analytics concepts.
Another great example of how a museum connects with their audience even while it is closed for an extended period is the Duchess of Lorrain museum in Nancy, East of France.
Their strategy consisted of publishing elements of their collection on their website, not only this allows local visitors to see these elements from another perspective but also it is possible to create a momentum for tourist visitors to return when the museum reopens.
All these #collective resources can be used to the best advantage depending on what digital or communication strategy an institution is moving forward with ... but most importantly, it allows to interact and keep in touch with their audiences.
An to go even further, museums can use their #collective resources in recreating their space with virtual tours.
These not only allow the collection to travel anywhere a good Internet connection is available, but also enables the museum to record, document past exhibits that are no longer materially available for view ...
A great example is the latest project Ortelia Interactive developed for the Women's Wealth Art Project... a virtual online tour, see each element of the collection as it is displayed or even in cases in which it has never been displayed at all.