6 tips to bring more visitors to small art museums

Small art museums have been struggling in the recent years with attracting visitors and generating income. This blog provides you, as representative of an art museum, numerous applicable recommendations and some interesting and recent examples that can help you to attract more visitors.

Tip 1: Work together with other museums

It is beneficial to search for museums that have a similar offer or to find museums that focus on an exhibition topic that can be related to your museum. Art museums can, for example, organise a theme year about an artist from whom objects are exhibited in several museums.

Example: Vincent Van Gogh year in 2015

Several Dutch museums (Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam, Kröller-Müller Museum, Noordbrabants Museum, Vincentre, and Vincent van GoghHuis) cooperated in order to make the Vincent van Gogh year successful. The number of visitors who visited the Vincent van GoghHuis increased with 70% in comparison to previous years.

Tip 2: Cross-sectoral cooperation

You can also work together with other museums to increase the number of visitors. The before mentioned Vincent van Gogh theme year did not only exist out of cooperation’s between museums. The destination marketing organisation NBTC was also involved to promote the theme year. In addition, there were activities that took place outside of the Van Gogh related museums.

Example: cooperation in practice

The Keukenhof is the most famous garden in the Netherlands, which created a portrait of the painter from flowers. Furthermore, restaurants offered dinners that were inspired by the painter and Vincent van Gogh cycling routes were developed. In total there were 991,000 visits made to the Netherlands in 2015 due to the Vincent van Gogh theme.

Tip 3: Continuously work on marketing and promotion campaigns

Museums need to continuously focus on marketing and promotion campaigns to attract visitors. It is important to conduct research for your museum on the interest of the target groups you want to attract. Exhibitions can be planned and adjusted in accordance with the research results.

Tip 4: Do not only focus on the permanent exhibition

It is advisable to focus not only on your permanent exhibition, but also offer your visitors different activities such as:

  • Theatre performances
  • Educational activities
  • Vacation activities for families with children
  • Invite new artists who are linked to the body of thought of the current artists in your museum

Tip 5: Tell the story behind the exhibited objects

It is recommended for museums to tell the stories behind their objects to make their exhibition interesting for a larger target group. In addition, the story behind objects can raise discussions which can lead to a better understanding of the object significance.

Tip 6: Make your museum resilient for the future

There are a number of trends and developments that currently influence museums. Technological developments such as augmented reality can change the traditional exhibition methods. In order to make museums resilient for the future, it is recommended to use the scenario planning approach. Using this method, you can sketch different scenarios that are based on current trends and developments that can prepare your museum for the future.

Would you like to get more recommendations from our museum expert?

If you need help with making your museum more attractive for your visitors, you can contact our expert in museum studies Sarike van Slooten.

This blog is written by Sandra Roorda.