The museum of the future – have Netflix and the like rendered museums superfluous?

The museum of the future – have Netflix and the like rendered museums superfluous?
© Future Museum


Survey by the collaborative “Future Museum” project explores the museum visit of the future

Art and cultural institutions in particular are facing major challenges during the Coronavirus pandemic. Museums remain closed for long periods or can receive only a few visitors. Digital and new formats are needed in order to maintain operations. What should museum visits be like in the future? As part of the collaborative Future Museum project, Fraunhofer IAO set up an online survey to ask members of the public about the future of museums.

The Coronavirus pandemic requires social distancing, contact-free interaction and isolation. Many museums and galleries, as well as clubs, operas and theaters, are turning to digital alternatives in an effort to continue offering guests and visitors access to art and culture. But how do you design a virtual tour to make it particularly attractive? And what awaits the sector after COVID-19? To provide answers to these questions, the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO’s collaborative Future Museum project designed a survey that lets the public actively participate in shaping the future of museums.

Survey offers insight into museum visit of the future

In two separate rounds, the project will survey visitors, art and culture enthusiasts, and even members of the public who tend to be skeptical about visiting museums. The goal is to give cultural institutions a glimpse into the desires and needs of their target group during and after the Coronavirus pandemic, to identify relevant trends and to support the digital transformation in this sector.

“It is now up to all of us to support the art and culture scene and to create a path for them to follow into the future. Participating in the survey at least offers a helping hand so the sector can align itself with the public’s desires and needs and in this way set itself up for a sustainable future,” says Vanessa Borkmann, a project manager at Fraunhofer IAO.

The survey is available in both German and English and takes about 15 minutes in either language. Anyone who is interested in actively helping to shape the future of museums is invited to respond. The first survey round takes place online and can be done from home. In the second step, museum visitors will be approached on site at museums and asked about their experience. This survey should ideally be completed at the end of respondents’ museum visits and, technology permitting, be filled out on their mobile devices.

Visitor experiences in the new normal – opportunities and challenges

The study’s findings will be evaluated in March 2021 and provided to the study participants and sponsors. The data offers, among other things, insight into the opportunities and challenges the Coronavirus pandemic poses for museums. In addition to the two survey rounds, there are also plans to conduct related focus groups and workshops, for example with families, so as to include and process the interests of different types of use. These additional research findings can then be used to develop visitor profiles and design appropriate visitor experiences. This will allow museums to continuously optimize their visitor experience and make the most of digital formats.