Last week, a prominent blogger posted a piece articulating why she felt museums were completely irrelevant. It was scathing (and you can find it here).
But the thing is, how can museums contradict her many (sometimes astute) points except anecdotally?
We can’t, because the museum field lacks robust, field-wide research and development (R&D) to understand how and why museums engage visitors effectively, or don’t as the case may be. And there certainly is little field-wide R&D to understand how museums need to evolve to meet ever-changing audiences where they are and will be in the future.
Without that knowledge, without understanding and articulating the how and why clearly, museums are falling behind with a diminishing case for visiting, and for support.
Since the start of our work with museums, Reach Advisors has sought to build the knowledge that museums have to engage deeply, thus increasing the value delivered by museums. To take it to the next step, we're launching a new service this fall, Reach Advisors: Museums R+D, a program designed to help member museums field deep, long-term, comprehensive national research to help make that case for museums, and to help member museums deliver more value for their various stakeholders.
Because the thing is . . . that blogger was right. Museums are irrelevant when people believe them to be so. After all, our audiences determine our relevance more than we do. And it's clear that the public is increasingly questioning the relevance of museums.
But we also differ from her because our client-based work to date has illustrated to us clearly the capacity museums have to move, inspire, inform, and change lives.
The hard work will begin this fall. We hope you will join us.