The National Videogame Museum (NVM) is celebrating five years since its Sheffield launch with a day of celebrations at the end of this week.
Its fifth birthday, on the 24th of November 2023, marks the museum’s busiest year to date, welcoming over 50,000 visitors to the Castle House venue, of which 70% are from outside of the city region.
The Museum, which is now working towards Museum Accreditation, holds a collection of nearly 5,000 videogame objects, arcade machines, technology, game memorabilia, and ephemera.
Its Co-CEO Cat Powell, who also serves as Director of Visitor Experience, joined the museum last year.
On the museum’s fifth birthday, Powell shares five lessons learned while working at the museum:
5 lessons from five years of the National Videogame Museum
Co-CEO and Director of Visitor Experience, National Videogame Museum
Engage Your Community
Like many cultural organisations, recent times have been challenging for the Museum. We survived the impact of the pandemic with the Arts Council England Culture Recovery Fund, plus support from patrons in the videogame industry and community fundraisers. Fundraising is a key part of a museum funding model so never be afraid to reach out. It’s humbling to learn that so many people value our work and are willing to step in when needed.
Share the Load
John O’Shea (Creative Director) and I share co-CEO responsibility for the BGI, our governing charity. This joint leadership model is a first for us both, but has been a brilliant way of sharing the responsibilities which come with overseeing a museum. Our Board was very open to the opportunity of a shared role – now the organisation benefits from our complementary skill sets and we each have someone else to support decision making or share the load.
Pay Attention to Detail
We are a ticketed museum and will welcome 50,000 visitors in 2023. Everyone paying to visit NVM should have the best possible time and come away feeling their experience was value for money. Therefore, I spend a good proportion of my week in the Museum, experiencing our offer and talking to the team. It’s only by being on the ground that you can pick up on any required changes and support colleagues in learning from visitor feedback.
As the UK’s only museum dedicated to videogames culture, we embody uniqueness. Over 70% of our visitors come from outside our host city of Sheffield to experience a celebration of the history and culture of videogames. This thread of difference is something we will carry into our future vision for the museum as a unique, Sheffield centred attraction. It also reflects the wide range of audiences who play videogames and the games they can experience.
After spending the last decade advocating for art in healthcare settings, I am comfortable challenging the norm. Most sectors have established ways of doing things, but this doesn’t mean your thinking should be fixed. Expertise should be respected, but it’s important too, to spend time sitting in the role of observer and question assumed logic. Just because something has always been done a certain way, it doesn’t mean it should!