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Conferences are a great time to meet new faces and dig deeper into industry-specific issues. The American Alliance of Museums 2023 Annual Meeting held in Denver from May 19–22, 2023, was no exception.

Velir has worked with museums and other cultural institutions for many years, but this was our first year participating in AAM’s conference. In the spirit of building new connections with those that work for these institutions, here are three conversation-expanding takeaways from the conference and one area where we felt the conversation could have gone deeper.

DEI Meet A.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives that drive toward equitable outcomes have been top of mind for organizations in the wake of the social reckoning kickstarted by the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing dialogue about issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community. Accessibility and the need to provide equal access to information is introducing an “A” to the equation.

The insightful TrendsWatch: Building the Post-pandemic World session introduced this emerging concept and the need to take a long view when it comes to designing accessible experiences that meet the needs of current and future generations. AAM’s Excellence in DEAI report provides a primer.

Big Data Meet Thick Data.

Big Data has long been associated with the quantitative analysis of large volumes of information. While Thick Data is perhaps less widely considered as the collection of qualitative information. Traditional user research methods generally fit within the Thick Data construct.

The interplay of Big Data as the “what” and Thick Data as the “why” was the grounding for the How Museums Can Use Big and Thick Data to Inform Strategy for Impact session that delved into the process used to refine wayfinding throughout Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Physical Meet Virtual

The notion of an organization’s homepage serving as its virtual front door is nothing new. However, while physical spaces are defined by time and place the virtual front door is more elusive. Patrons might have relationships with their preferred museums solely on a social platform and at all hours of the day. This became more evident through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developing a civic strategy and homing in on mission over donations were shared as approaches to strengthen engagement through these changing times in the entertaining 60 Ideas in 60 Minutes: Museum Philanthropy and Membership After a Pandemic session.

Need help with your museum or cultural institution’s next digital marketing initiative? We’ve got you covered.

We uniquely understand the challenges facing museums and cultural institutions and can work with yours to discover dynamic ways to engage your audiences through your digital ecosystem.

Digital Meet Strategy?

The role of digital was evident throughout the conference — in considering new models for digital revenue, in emerging technologies to enhance physical exhibits, and in social media approaches to engage audiences. But these all felt like several very tactical ways to use digital.

Missing was a deeper consideration into the existential quandary of how museums can thrive and deliver on their mission in a world without walls. There are tactics to deliver against this such as deeper data analysis across digital properties and personalized experiences that take the physical destination out of the equation.

The starting point is a sobering acceptance that virtual experiences have far greater reach and that a well-considered strategy is needed to determine what digital tactics are best suited to magnify a museum’s mission. This topic is where we feel like there’s a lot of room for conversation and exploration, and it’s a conversation we’d love to have with you if you work for a museum or cultural institution.

Reach out to talk to us about your next digital marketing initiative and how we can help you take your organization’s digital experiences to the next level.


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