Issue #17

Experiential Museums

Museums go for the art of the unexpected.

Moving away from static exhibits, museums have become inspirational playgrounds for experiential marketers, chocked full of engagements and technological integrations that bring content to life—operating under the same principles as events in this way. Whatever consumers can find in their local museums they’ll expect to find in your brand experiences. From wellness intertwined with art, multisensory mind games to social media amplification, these spaces are giving the experiential space a run for its money. A look at four with strategies worth studying.

Multisensory immersion. At the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s new “Listen Hear: The Art of Sound exhibit,” sound is the attraction, as visitors make their way through 10 installations that deliver creative messages through active listening. In one group experience, an ode to Claude Debussy, 56 audio speakers in a “deconstructed passage” play a work by him on endless loop as colored lights illuminate in patterns people might see in the colors of a painting. In another room, photos of stray cats in an artists’ backyard are paired with headphones that allow visitors to hear each cats’ unique purr. One reviewer called it “the sound of music now becomes the music of sound.”

Inspirational workouts. You would never think it appropriate to run in a museum, but at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, patrons are doing just that. The museum hosts curated “dance” journeys called The Museum Workout in the morning before its doors open. Performers serve as docents, snaking, trotting, marching and speed-walking through the museum as pop-rock and jazz plays, carefully choreographing moves around obstructions in their path. They’re an art installation in and of themselves. The program represents a creative use of shared space and demonstrates how wellness can be incorporated into any mission.

Social media curation. While some museums are rebuffing social media, others have embraced the practice, building amplification into their institution’s marketing plans and creating exhibits worthy of a hashtag. In appealing to younger audiences, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art leverages an active Snapchat account that offers up punchlines to famous works of art. Its “Levitated Mass” sculpture by Michael Heizer, a popular selfie snapshot because you can position yourself to appear as though you’re holding up the boulder, reaches an estimated 175,000 people each week posting images with #lacma.

Technological layers. There’s a touch of magic happening at the Seattle Art Museum, thanks to an augmented reality integration that offers more than what appears to the naked eye. In its Olympic Sculpture Park, consumers are invited to use the free Layer app, and by activating it with a scan at a kiosk on-site, an outdoor exhibit is then activated, as colorful scenes come to life through the screen.

An event within an event… inspiration strikes.

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