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­­­Strategy development of modernizing museum practices for working with visitors

Priority areas of development: economics, management, state and public administration
2020

Goal of research

The research aim is to justify and develop a scalable strategy for modernizing the museums’ interaction with visitors, which can be recommended for implementation in museums of various profiles and departmental subordination.

Methodology

Applied methods, empirical base of researchThe research methodology involves a series of studies aimed at in-depth study of the issue of modernization of the museum’s work with visitors. The design of the study contains the triangulation approach to identify the main factors that determine the current models of interaction with visitors in the new reality. The study was implemented in four stages.

At the first stage, desk research of museum development concepts and strategies was conducted in order to identify the main directions that museums follow in terms of working with visitors. As part of the desk study, 24 concepts of the Russian museums’ development and 36 strategies of the foreign museums' development were analyzed. The desk research was conducted using the method of structural analysis, which compared strategic documents on formal and substantive aspects. As a result, it was revealed that the priority direction of the strategic development of Russian museums remains work with museum fund, while foreign museums indicate the work with visitors as a priority direction. The revealed areas of museums’ activity, as well as factors that determine the scenarios of interaction between the museum and its audience formed the basis for the formation of a survey questionnaire for managers of museum institutions.

The second stage was focused on the development and approbation of the main survey questionnaire of museum specialists. The main survey purpose is to identify the conceptual and technological features of strategy modernization development for the interaction of museums with visitors. Seventeen specialists from seven leading museums in Saint Petersburg took part in the pilot survey. Testing of the questionnaire confirmed its relevance as a collection tool. As a result of the pilot survey, technical changes in order to the wording of some of the questions in the questionnaire to ensure transparency in the meaning of the questions. In general, the questionnaire was found to cover the previous experience of museums with visitors, assess the current conditions of interaction, and identify promising avenues for modernizing work with different audiences.

In the third stage, the main study survey was provided. The museums of the different profiles and departmental subordination, belonging to the community, were invited to participate in the survey with the support of the Union of Russian museums.118 museum specialists, representing 113 museums, took part in the survey. The survey results were analyzed by thematic modeling; the Latent Dirichlet Allocation method was applied.

The survey of Russian museums during the period of release from quarantine restrictions was one of the four stages of this study. 230 museums took part in the survey. The survey aimed to identify the most appropriate formats for the work of the museums with the audience at a time of instability in the world.

Results of research

The main result of the research was the strategy development of the museum’s activity modernization, aimed at improving and developing the work formats with the different groups of museum visitors. The development of the strategy was based on the theoretical basis of the strategic planning of museum activities, as well as on the retrospective experience of modernizing the work with visitors.

In strategy development, account was taken of the social, cultural and economic prerequisites of modernization; the guidelines underlying causes the main directions of modernization policy; the resources needed to modernize work; experience impact of implementing the best innovative practices of interaction with representatives of different audiences.

Level of implementation,  recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results

This study was supported by the Union of Russian museums. Based on the provided studies, the authors developed several methodological recommendations for the modernization of the museums’ interaction with visitors. The recommendations cover the most sought-after directions of museum activity, including the development of museum digital space; the management of excessive tourist flows; modernization of the events and post-events activities of museums in terms of interaction with visitors. Museum specialists are also recommended to modernize their practices in working with schoolchildren, young people, visitors of “third age”, as well as inclusive groups.

In addition, four modernization models were developed. Each model involves the development of interaction between the museum and visitors based on the specifics of the conditions of the museum's location, which determine the priority of goals and objectives for the stable implementation of museum activities. The model of extensive traffic growth is most relevant for museums located in small and medium-sized cities and experiencing a shortage in the number of visitors. In this model, it is recommended to focus on expanding the range of services offered by the museum, designed for both individual visitors and visitors in an organized group. The model of visitors’ loyalty formation is inherent in museums located in cities - cultural and academic centers. The main museums’ task of this model is to form an interested community around the museum. The model of Internet space development is typical for museums that have difficulties in attracting a sufficient number of visitors, including loyal ones. The main tools of this model are modern formats for involving visitors in the digital environment of the museum. The communication and image model assumes the museum's focus on developing its brand and building a reputation both among visitors and in the professional community. It is inherent in the largest museums in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The formed models can be recommended for implementation in museums of various profiles and departmental subordination.

With the assistance of the Union of Russian museums, it is planned to bring the results and recommendations to the heads of museum institutions, as well as specialists responsible for working with visitors.

Publications:


Sizova I. GLOBAL MODERNIZATION AND GENERATIONAL EVOLUTION OF INTERACTING WITH MUSEUM VISITORS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE 20TH CENTURY / Basic Research Programme. Series HUM "Humanities". "WP BRP 193/HUM/2020". 2020. 
Гордин В. Э., Шокола Я. В., Куделькина А. Н., Кайсаров А. А. Кластерный подход к систематизации методов регулирования избыточных потоков посетителей музеев, in: Музей и проблемы культурного туризма: Материалы восемнадцатого Круглого стола, 2–3 апреля 2020 года. Санкт-Петербург : Издательство Государственного Эрмитажа, 2020. С. 67-75. 
Сизова И. А. Музей – активный участник рынка непрерывного образования // Вестник Томского государственного университета. 2021. № 464. C. 225-231. doi