Skip to main content

Museums Going Mobile in 2011

News
  • Nearly Half of US Museums Offer Mobile Information Access to Visitors.
  • In 2011 the Fastest Growing Mobile Platform Will Be Smartphone Apps.
  • "Mobile Giving" Emerges as Key Driver of Museums’ Mobile Programs.

RelatedImmersive digital cinema abounds in the science museum community  / Chicago’s World Class Museums drawing the crowds /   Museums: What do Kids Want? / Smithsonian’s attendance tops record year and Tate outgrow galleries

Although many museums exist to showcase and celebrate heritage, new research reveals they are thoroughly forward-looking in utilizing new technologies when it comes to engaging visitors.

A survey of American Association of Museums (AAM) members conducted by Fusion Research + Analytics (and sponsored by Guide by Cell) shows that mobile technology is vital to most museums’ visitor strategy. Mobile technology in museums is projected to expand significantly in 2011, providing institutions with enhanced visitor engagement and alternative revenue models.

Access the complete survey on the AAM Website at: http://www.aam-us.org/upload/AAM_Mobile_Technology_Survey.pdf

The online survey of nearly 2, 300 AAM members, representing more than 1, 000 museums across all 50 states, revealed that 42% of museums currently offer mobile technology to visitors to enhance their experience. The majority of mobile technology in museums today is still used to provide audio-only guides, with emerging tools such as Smartphone apps and multimedia tours represented in just one in 20 museums. However, the future holds exceptional growth, as one-third of both Mobile and Non-Mobile museums plan to introduce a new mobile platform this year – with “Smartphone apps” projected to grow the fastest in 2011 (with 21% of museums planning to expand in this area), followed by “traditional cell phone tours” (17%).

Mobile technology  facilitates income generation

Significantly, given the economic challenges that many museums worldwide now face, the survey also illustrates how mobile technology can facilitate income generation, with one in 10 museums planning to introduce “Mobile Giving” as a donation method in the next year. (“Mobile Giving” is the third most common mobile platform being planned by museums, after Smartphone apps and cell phone tours.) A majority of museums that focus on “Giving & Donation” as a mobile technology goal also rate the following as very important to their mobile strategy: reaching out to ”younger audiences to establish a giving relationship” (60%), “providing a method for donating” (56%) and keeping “current donors engaged” (52%).

“America’s museums are always looking for novel ways to connect with new audiences, increase efficiency and enhance the visitor educational experience that is the core of our mission, ” said AAM president Ford W. Bell. “This revealing survey proves that mobile technology will be a big part of museums’ becoming more effective and influential in all three of these areas.”

Not surprisingly, museums overwhelmingly agree that mobile platforms are important to visitor strategy and that mobile technology is here to stay, with less than 5% of respondents stating that mobile technology is a “fad.” But implementing new mobile programs is a challenge, with both Mobile and Non-Mobile museums pointing to a lack of funding and insufficient internal resources as significant barriers.  Very few (only 6%) list “lack of visitor demand” as a factor.

Commenting on the study results, Matthew Petrie, Fusion Research + Analytics’ Managing Director, said: “The 2011 AAM Mobile Technology Survey demonstrates the enthusiasm for mobile in the museum sector.  We estimate that by the end of the year almost 50% of US museums will provide mobile services to their visitors, and that increase will obviously be driven by the continued proliferation of mobile technology, but more importantly by museums realizing the potential for mobile to further engage their visitors while providing additional avenues for marketing outreach and revenue/donation streams.”

About AAM:

The American Association of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. With more than 17, 000 individual, 3, 000 institutional and 300 corporate members, AAM is dedicated to ensuring that museums remain a vital part of the American landscape, connecting people with the greatest achievements of the human experience, past, present and future. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.

About Fusion Research + Analytics, LLC:

Fusion provides tailored research and strategic audience evaluations for cultural institutions. They start with thorough and innovative research — and then work with clients to understand the tactical and strategic implications of their research insights. For more information, visit www.fusionanalytics.com.

About Guide by Cell:

Guide by Cell is the world’s largest provider of interactive mobile technology solutions for cultural institutions and nonprofit organizations. Since 2004, the company has expanded its services to include mobile audio tours, text messaging systems, Smartphone applications and mobile giving campaigns. For more information, visit www.guidebycell.com.

For further information contact:

 Dewey Blanton
AAM
202-218-7704
dblanton@aam-us.org

Liz Healy
Fusion Research + Analytics LLC
202-550-0051
l_healy@fusionanalytics.com

Images: copyright The Wallace Collection, London.

More from this author

Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.

Find out how to update