Thank you very much for the many helpful responses we received to the June ITM posting, which was about attracting twenty- to forty-year-olds to the museum. We were extremely impressed with the overall thoughtfulness of your replies and are posting a number of them below. The advice most universally given was to combine social and educational experiences in new and interesting ways. We’ll be working on that and other ideas.
I am the chair of communication studies at Grove City College, a small liberal arts college about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh. After reading your email inquiring for ideas on how to attract a younger demographic in the latest issue of “Inside the Museum,” I wanted to see if you would be interested in a possible collaboration. I will be teaching couses in Research Methods and Persuasion Theory this fall and Research Methods and Visual Communication next spring, and I think it would be interesting for my students to tackle this problem of reaching millenials as a case study. We could create interview/focus group or survey protocols, create a video, write a blog or white paper, etc. I am open to any ideas you might have in how we can serve you best.
Thank you in advance for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.
I am responding to your “Inside the Museum” e-mail asking for feedback about ways to bring a younger demographic into the museum. As a 28-year-old professional in Pittsburgh, I talked to a few friends about ways we might be more engaged in the museum.
I am a big fan of the Natural History Museum, but have not been as big into the art side, even though I have a membership that allows me to experience both. So I tried to think of ways that would encourage me to be more interested in the things I wasn’t already drawn to.
First, my young professional friends are always drawn to happy-hour or weekend events with a reasonable ticket price that allow us to mingle with other young professionals in a different environment than the run-of-the-mill bar. We aren’t as able to spend the prices for galas and things like that, but events targeted at young professionals with cocktails and hors d’ouevres are a great way to bring us in the door.
Either in tandem with these events, or separate, a friend pointed out that we’ve been brought up with the theory that learning is fun and unless it’s something that’s we’re SUPER interested, we aren’t drawn to lectures and typical tours. A tour with a more focused interest that might be a little different “Artists and their muses” or something might be more interesting than just “Contemporary artists.” Or even things like having a “scavenger hunt,” trivia or other game-like way to explore the museum, where we are learning something in a more interactive way.
Also, having special events for members, or especially Facebook fans, allows for special behind-the-scenes type tours and experiences that bring in a wider range pf people to do something different than the everyday walk around the museum. The zoo does a lot of these kind of programs and they seem to be very successful.
Anyway, those are some of the biggest things we came up with. I’d love to see what ways the museum comes up with to bring in more young people. Even as a member, I’d love to be involved in more programs if more came along that were of interest to me. If I can give any other feedback, please feel free to contact me. Best of luck in your new endeavors.
I found your newsletter very interesting. I am a former Pittsburgh resident who visits frequently (both my kids live there), which is why I am a subscriber to your newsletter. I am also a demographer and blog about demographics. (demomemo.blogspot.com)
I have a couple of ideas about how the museum could attract younger people–particularly singles. Offer an individual membership level that allows members to bring one guest (such as a date). This would make it easy for young adults to “go out” to the museum. Two, have weekly (or monthly) beer/wine tastings in various exhibit areas or parts of the museum(s)–shifting to a different area each week or month. At these tastings, have an expert present to (casually, not formally) discuss various pieces of art for anyone who wants to listen or ask questions.
Spontaneity, informality, and conviviality.
I appreciate your interest in the demographics.
I love this newsletter. Being privy to the thinking processes of the museum director is a wonderful opportunity. I work with a non-profit educational center and this issue is as relevant to our continuance as it is to the museum’s. I read everyone. Thanks for the good articles.
First of all, I’d like you to know how much I enjoy the “Inside the Museum” series. It’s been insightful and it’s nice to have more of a personal touch from our museum director.
I’d also like you to know that I am part of the so-called “Millennial” group (born 1982) and would like to caution you about setting too much store by what a consultant has told you various generational groups value and what their supposed frame of reference is. It’s outrageously incorrect to state that “Millennials” (By the way, I hate that label!) “…have no recollection of life without computers or cell phones” – that statement would probably apply to the members of this group that are currently in high school, but certainly do not apply to the older members.
What would be beneficial would be to convene a focus group consisting of members of various generational groups to get their true feelings about what they value and what would get them in the door. I know one thing that definitely won’t get me in the door is to hear that the director of the museum thinks that I have no idea what a phone attached to the wall is or that I don’t want to pay for anything. It’s insulting to read such generalizations about my generation. I assume you wouldn’t be too happy if I wrote that you must be either a tree-hugging hippie or an anti-environmental corporate tool because you are obviously part of the Baby Boomer generation (of course, no personal offense meant).
I’m a paying member of the Carnegie Museums and would be happy to share my opinion in such a forum.
Interesting, but I’m personally mostly skeptical & unimpressed at these big generational generalities — Gen X & the whatevers will marry, have children & want enriching places to take their kids & in-laws to — just like the generations before them.
Please let’s not base our cultural institutions on the short attention spans of video-gamed youth. It’s too soon to be making these kind of overarching judgements . . .
With the Science Center — I’ve seen personally how kids are drawn to it — & OmniMax (same) & Warhol events, Carnegie is plenty hip to youth.
People who study these kinds of trends have already documented “Facebook burnout” . . . . Mindless attention to trivia is tiresome, and as a culture we’ll get over it. Many of us already have. And who knows how soon we’ll laugh off our fascination with “tweets” . . .
First I must tell you I am a product of the Tam O’Shanter art classes from 1964-1968. As a high school art teacher from 1976-2010, I brought my students to the museum countless times. Dino-Mite Days provided a priceless experience to my Uniontown High school art students’ and brought our Sign-o-saurus to life (pg 100 of the “yearbook”). So I consider Inside the Museum a letter from home. (I’d prefer, if published on the CMA website, you edit this next comment so not to unintentionally offend the easily offended: As recently elected president of the Uniontown Art Club, I look to the archives as one of many sources to help boost interest in the contemporary art scene to a membership leaning toward conservative/traditional views on art. Many of our members don’t “get” modern art movements and some equate modernisn (i.e. technolgy in art…never!)to anarchy! Still, I look at these attitudes as lacking in education and first-hand interaction. I enjoy your head-on appr oach and look forward to more Inside the Museum.