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digital strategies for museums


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Digital Media Related to Visitor Strategy

Over the past year, I’ve attended a lot of conferences and listened to many different museum voices. A question that frequently comes up is, “What is our digital strategy?” Other questions along the same lines are, “What should our digital strategy be? We need an app! Our website needs to have a database of our entire collection!” Bringing to life the dream of the one magic creation.

The Coolest App

The dream of the one magic creation is the idea that one thing will solve all of your digital problems and will, of course, be a one-size-fits-all fix. The magic creation shows up in all of our lives, but alas, it is yet another urban myth, much like the perfect love match (who never has bad breath) or the nice boss. The one magic creation never solves the real problem, “Who is your visitor, and what are they interested in?” Instead, the real question to ask yourself should be, “What is your visitor strategy?”

I have sat with people who believe that since so many visitors are staring at their phones, they just want to visit your space and continue to stare at their phones or the magic app. Visitors are just waiting with baited breath for your museum to have the coolest app that they can download and keep forever!

Yet if your visitors were to download this app and consume the content with their phones, why would they need to visit your museum? Yes, you may be able to interact with an exhibit using the app, but the main behavior we don’t want to encourage is that of the visitor engaging in another phone-based experience.

And depending upon the age of your visitor, they may have some or no interest in your app or website.

Millennials, Gen Z, or Super Fans?

The first questions to be answered are, “Who are your visitors? Older generations? Millennials? Gen Z? Families? Super fans?”

Older generations might visit your website to access the visitor information, but millennials and Gen Z are NOT interested in your website or app. They won’t download it. They will ask Google, Siri, or Alexa about the hours and directions and continue on their way.

There has been a lot of desire among museums to have all artifacts and images digitized and made available on their websites, tablet apps, and mobile devices. Allowing digital visitors to find artifacts, art, and special exhibits – items that they may never get to see if they live far away – is a wonderful reason to digitize and share your collection. Democratizing of information – allowing art or history students in other states access to rare pieces – is an amazing way to expand your museum’s reach.


If your group believes that there will be overwhelming curiosity from local visitors to immediately download your app and keep it on their device forever… this will only be a fit for a small number of super fans.

So if the older generation and the younger generation are not interested in your application, and Gen Z isn’t interested in your website – then what?

Engage and Inspire

The experience is the hook. Give visitors something they can do without a phone or tablet. Such a rarity may perhaps even be photo worthy via Instagram or Snapchat. (FYI – Gen Z is embarrassed by Facebook and only use it to check on Mom and Dad!)

child learning at museum

There is nothing surprising or interesting about a computer/tablet/phone anymore. Lasting memories are created by experiences that bring art/materials into focus in a personal and emotional way. The visitor remembers where they were and what they were doing! By offering experiences, you may be able to establish instant fans. Create an experience that allows visitors to have an impact while engaging with art, history, or science. Personalize the museum to suit their needs and desires. Give them reasons to fill their social media storylines with the amazing time they are having and the things they are creating. Allow visitors to form a link between themselves and your content. These are the social experiences that all people are hungry for.

Experiences matter.

by Trent Oliver, Managing Director/Principal, Blue Telescope

About Blue Telescope

Blue Telescope designs innovative experiences for the brands of the future.

Blue Telescope, surprising, delighting and educating visitors – whether they are visiting your museum, exhibition or briefing center.

Click the links below to view recent Blue Telescope projects that highlight visitor creation/exploration. We are in a fantastic time where we have the ability to create personalized experiences for everyone – changing visitors into life-long museum advocates!

National Museum of Mathematics: Human Tree
Transform visitors into living works of fractal art.

Beyond Rubics Cube: Tessellation Maker
Allow visitors to freely explore the geometry of patterns and tessellations.

Ipsen – Injection Simulator
Train physicians on the injection of a solution into the correct muscles in the head and neck in real time with millimeter accuracy.

Find out more at

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