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Thought Leadership

Six museums inspiring us right now

Museums are demonstrating value with innovative and audience-focused responses


Read/View Time5 min

Museums are standing strong in their missions during unforeseen disruptions.

They are utilizing technology to adapt to changing audience needs. Across the globe, museums in the Tessitura community are demonstrating resilience, courage and creativity during COVID-19.

“This is not just about the past. This is about being a platform, and being a pillar, and being a force for helping ourselves and helping each other have a greater sense of justice and equity.” — Nancy Yao Maasbach, Museum of Chinese in America

Nancy Yao Maasbach, President of Museum of Chinese in America, spoke with Tessitura President & CEO, Andrew Recinos, about the challenges they were facing in 2020. These included a five-alarm fire and intensified racism directed at Asian Americans, all against the backdrop of COVID-19 closures and the Black Lives Matter movement. In their conversation she discussed equity in arts funding and education, the sustainability of small but vital cultural institutions, and volatility on the road to conscience.

“This was an opportunity to make sure we were changing the behavior of our audience in a positive way.”
— Kristie Swink Benson, High Museum of Art

During Capacity Interactive’s 2020 Digital Marketing Bootcamp for the Arts, High Museum of Art’s Director of Communications, Kristie Swink Benson, shared how the Atlanta-based museum made a seamless shift to advance ticketing. An increase from a ratio of 11% advance online ticket buyers prior to the pandemic to 99% today means the High Museum now has data available to them that is helping to fuel more effective marketing.

Read our favorite quotes from 2020 Digital Marketing Bootcamp for the Arts.



“We really focused on providing access to the collection. We worked with marketing to create a really strong program.”
— Nancy Cooper, High Museum of Art

The High Museum of Art also recently launched the new all-digital Museum Pass. Working closely with Tessitura ecosystem partners Donate2 and Cuseum, they executed and delivered a new monthly membership option that provides a digital card on each member’s mobile phone. The $4 per month price aims to eliminate barriers to the museum’s extensive collection and most special exhibitions. “Most people can afford the price of a cup of coffee,” explained Nancy Cooper, the museum’s Membership Manager, explained.

In our joint webinar, Cooper shares a case study and outcomes from this initiative.

“It may seem challenging to engage members during COVID-19, but it can be vital from a financial perspective. In a time like this pandemic, a large member base is really helping fund the Institute right now.”
— Kendall Wimmer, Thanksgiving Point

In our Seven Tips for Reopening Safely, we share how Thanksgiving Point is taking an innovative approach to the logistical considerations of reopening. The article also spotlights how Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Philbrook Museum of Art, and National World War I Museum and Memorial, as well as the Dallas Zoo, are finding a renewed sense of meaning in being able to open their spaces once again.

“People wept. They were holding hands and crying. It was a very emotional experience.”
— Gary Tinterow, Museum of Fine Arts Houston

In May 2020, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston was the first major American art museum to reopen after COVID lockdowns, utilizing timed tickets and limited entry. Museum Director Gary Tinterow shared his thoughts about the attendee reaction with Andrew Recinos: “They wept. People were holding hands and crying. It was a very emotional experience.”

Andrew shares how “arts and culture organizations need to prepare for an experience surge on the other side of COVID” in his article Post-traumatic growth is real.

Science Museum Group in the UK recovered revenue lost from reduced capacity and minimized contact onsite by offering pre-booked lunches and guidebooks. The Railway Museum, York added a message to the online purchase path suggesting to avoid the queues and buy a lunch in advance. Customers booked over 2,600 lunches from reopening to December 2020. After that success, Science Museum Group rolled out online lunch purchases at all their sites.

The Science and Media Museum, Bradford, took a similar approach and opted to upsell guidebooks with the free museum admission. In two months they’d sold 80% of the guidebooks they’d sold in the whole of the previous year.

“We need more joy. We need more happiness. We need more cats. And we need places that will give us hope.”
— Scott Stulen, Philbrook

Philbrook Museum, located in Tulsa, has been meeting the challenge of their COVID-19 closure by leaning into their mission to connect people to art and nature — in numerous new and often fun ways. CEO and President Scott Stulen discusses their creative response to a challenging time in this interview with Andrew Recinos.

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Tessitura Network is proud to work with more than one hundred of the world’s leading museums and galleries. Find out how we are enabling them to maximise the efficiency of admissions, deepen member engagement, and streamline fundraising with our unified CRM platform.


Top photo: Science Museum, London

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