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Are museums ready to push to create more engaging visitor destinations?

So often seen as the laggards within the leisure and tourism industry, museums and heritage centres have a negative reputation to shake.

Your personal museum memories probably stem back to a school trip, wandering aimlessly around an artefact-filled passive environment – the one exhibition button that does something, never seemed to do anything.

But times are changing.

The hum and buzz at the Museums and Heritage Show in London this week (15th -16th April 2019) was a testament to an industry in evolution. So, what is changing?

Making local connections

Museums have always been a place for locals to learn – but letting them curate too? Both Derby Museums and the Museum of Oxford took to the stage to showcase their volunteer initiatives. By getting locals involved, they’ve realised a memorable connection can lead to loyalty and, perhaps, inspiring them to make a future in the industry too.

Making guests healthier

Psychological or physical distress of patients has been treated by doctors with art, in a pilot scheme, overseen by the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance. The result? A 37% drop in GP consultations and a 27% drop in hospital admissions. Art galleries and museums can have a profound impact on wellbeing – a talking point that is achingly popular in 2019.

Making museums innovative

A national picture of museums and heritage centres reveals a disjointed and outdated multitude of technological equipment, used in the hope of better engaging guests – and some of it does work. But in virtual reality, augmented reality and holograms, there are now affordable, updateable and centralised solutions that immerse guests greater than ever before.

Making money available

£1.45 billion is available to UK museums from Arts Council England in the form of project grants, development funds and support for their funded organisations. If Isabel Churcher from Arts Council England could have swung from the rooftops shouting “we have money to spend on you!”, I think she would have to encourage more applications.

The question is…

Are museums ready to now push to create more engaging visitor destinations?

The local residents, wellbeing factor, technology and money are all available to make this happen – not to mention the collections and super talented curators museums have at their disposal.

The gauntlet has been thrown down…

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