The study, carried out by Axiell, the leading provider of collections management software for archives, libraries and museums in cooperation with Museums and the Web, focused on 71 senior leaders, strategy consultants, curators and employees from museums worldwide.

It showed that many are using smartphones and tablets to engage visitors and provide educational opportunities. The new research shows that more than half, 53 per cent, of museums are actively investing in engagement strategies.

As museums today need to create a sustainable future, which means that they must take care of their core assets, the collection, and also invest in strategy and leveraging technology to reach the connected consumer digital technology is fast becoming a preferred means of engagement for all ages and all skill levels.

The survey revealed that the key priorities for audience engagement include providing educational opportunities, cited by 86 per cent of survey respondents, followed by making information on activities and programmes available online (65.7 per cent), enhancing the visitor experience via mobile services (50 per cent), reaching diverse audiences (61.4 per cent), making the museum accessible (64.2 per cent) and creating quality cross-platform experiences (40 per cent).

The highest priority areas in terms of investment include marketing, online platforms and communication strategies, cited by 54 per cent, with 44 per cent investing in digitising their collections. Digitisation of the collection can aid the museum in receiving donations, since making the collection public is closely tied to educational and research goals. Currently only one in five museums has digitised more than 50 per cent of its collection.

“Digitising information is exactly what museums need to be doing to ensures that they can bring their collections to life,” said John Doolan, CEO of Archives, Libraries and Museums at Axiell. “For many of our customers, tying together objects from archives, libraries and museums ensure a completeness for educational and research purposes that is invaluable to society. It is our vision to bring large research institutions to children so they can benefit in their education by accessing the world’s the cultural heritage.”

The research also reveals clear signs that the museum market is growing and engagement is on the rise, with 48.5 per cent of museums seeing an increase in physical visits, 50 per cent in website visits and 82.3 per cent in activities on social media sites.

Museums are also leveraging on technologies such as smartphones and tablets, with 33 per cent citing that visitors can use their own devices to access a complete guide of the museum and almost 40 per cent increasing their investment to do the same. Only a quarter of respondents said that they have not yet started to use mobile devices.

When asked more specifically about their audience engagement and development strategies, at least half of museums confirmed the following to be a core part of their approach:

  • Metadata standards for online collections
  • Digital asset management
  • Digitising standards and planning
  • Curriculum and other standards for education content
  • Accessibility standards and inclusive design

The results will be presented and discussed at the Museums and the Web’s North American conference in Los Angeles in April 2016.

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