Museum Analytics

Museum Analyticsbeta defines itself as “an online platform for sharing and discussing information about museums and their audiences.”

After only having scattered benchmarks to compare progress with, The Netherlands’ INTK developed this API-based web platform for collecting statistics and sharing them with other museum institutions. It looks to be building off of the Walker Art Center’s previous museum stats tracker. Social media and web analytics can be tracked over time, and the information is freely downloadable in aggregated PDF reports.

Over 3,000 museums are already participating!

My main problem with the application is that it doesn’t seem to have considered adding measurability factors to help interpret what these statistics actually mean. 

Although having over 1,000 Facebook “likes” might mean that people are viewing and (hopefully) engaging with a given institution’s content, the information that would be more valuable if it could determine what purpose led users to the museum in the first place, and whether or not their needs were met. Asking questions about the data is just as important as collecting it:

  • Did that user have a good experience? What made it valuable?
  • How many of the online visits are return visits?
  • Are there any commonalities in what returners did on the website that led them to return?
  • Will visitors talk about your institution with their friends and family?
  • …In a positive light? A negative one?

I would be really interested to see Museum Analytics incorporate some type of institutional hash tagging, or sorting by museum size, so that institutions can measure metrics against several types of benchmarks:

  • museums of similar size/budget,
  • museums with comparable content,
  • with the same types of patrons,
  • with shared goals,
  • in the same geographic area,
  • …etc.

Collecting information about not only the social media data, but museums themselves and what they are selecting to measure over time will be a more effective tool in generating valuable visitor experiences.

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