Exploring New Methods in Museum Visitor Experience

Legacy system vs cloud-based system for museums and institutions. Learn about the digital transformation roadmap.

Why Museums Should Elevate Their Museum Software Through the Cloud

In today’s world, competing for attention is a necessary skill; essentially, everyone is trying to grab a share from a finite resource of attention. This means that the museums, like all cultural institutions, are competing against a whole raft of other entertainment options. Combine this with ever-changing demographics, trends and increasing expectations of museum visitors, organizations like museums must embrace emerging technologies and become digital natives to survive and engage their audiences.

Yet, many museums are still struggling with legacy systems to provide the backbone to support their business practices. This lack of digital resource manifests itself in reduced customer experience, unmanageable budgets, limited data collection and analytical capability, and low staff engagement. Many museums have realized that the future lies no longer with on-premise platforms, but with cloud-based software solutions. Most leading cultural institutes are already considering this transformation not just as a luxury, but as a necessity for their organization’s survival. Cloud-based digital transformations take many guises, but it is true to say that in the field of cultural experiences, they are all customer-centric. Increased information access and delivery, lead nurturing, visitor experience, an easier point of sale, personalized artifact interaction and social collaboration are all aspects which can be transformed for the better. Anyone of these can elevate an organization above their peers.

As previously mentioned, transforming any software system, no matter what its purpose, should be aimed directly at improving the customer/visitor experience. From back-end databases to front-end mobile apps, the customer must feel the benefit. Through this, we can increase customer engagement in an organization no matter which channels they use.

Different businesses often identify different areas which are key to their unique success, and digital transformation can be applied to any one of them. What is important is how what and why it is being done. Consider a selection of potential digital transformations:

  • Unique visitor experiences such as using cutting-edge augmented reality
  • An improved mechanism from which to better support services, such as a centralized, shareable, and collaborative database
  • A 360-degree understanding of visitors, members, and donors through a cloud-based CRM - to understand who visitors are and what they come for
  • Software designed specifically to provide and support visitor’s mobile experiences
  • A personalized museum visit based on what you know about a customer
  • Improved software to support retail transactions - both on-site and online
  • Marketing automation to improve customer interaction and gain new insights

All of these suggested objects of transformation have two key ingredients:

  1. They improve the customer experience in some way and thus raise the organization above its competitors
  2. Consequently, they improve ROI

So, we’ve mentioned ‘the cloud’ a few times. Most of us will know what the cloud is, but some may not fully understand its benefits to the business. Here are just a few:

  • Flexibility. Business needs ebb and flow and cloud-based services make it easy to scale up when the time comes.
  • Disaster recovery. Robust disaster recovery is a necessity for any organization, and cloud-based services mean that even the smallest businesses can implement cost-effective, large-business recovery solutions
  • Automatic software updates. As cloud computing is off-premise, suppliers take care of any maintenance such as security updates, so you don’t have to worry about them
  • Capital-expenditure free. Cloud computing removes the need for single-purchases of high-value software. Consider it as a pay-as-you-go, subscription-based model which is kind to your cash flow
  • Increased collaboration. Working together on cloud-based projects is easy. Your team can access, edit and share documents anytime, anywhere, with real-time updates.
  • Work from anywhere. If you’ve got the internet, you can be at work, whatever device you are using
  • Security. Cloud computing removes the need for on-site data; no more worrying about carrying notebooks around containing your database
  • Competitiveness. Moving to the cloud gives access to big-company technology enabling smaller businesses to act faster and disrupt the market, whilst remaining lean and nimble.

Table of Contents

  1. Digital Transformation Brings Art Museums into the Digital Age
  2. Overview: Digitizing The Museum Experience 
  3. How the Institute of Contemporary Art Developed their Customer-Centric Focus
  4. Minneapolis Institute of Art Journey into the Cloud Solutions
  5. First Mobile VR Art Exhibit
  6. Virtual Lightbox Gallery - Inspiring Collaborators to Overcome the Challenges of Project Development
  7. The SFMOMA App - Diverse Audio Storytelling through Location-aware Technology
  8. Science Museum Group Relaunch Re-branded and Re-imagined Websites
  9. ARTLENS Gallery - Combining Digital Technology and Art for Immersion
  10. Conclusion: Museum Gallery and Collection Management on the Cloud


For museums, a cloud-based digital transformation is only the beginning of a new journey. It is a way of readdressing an organization’s digital strategy and updating its core software systems to add value to their digital marketing strategies and digital marketing platforms. This is something that until recently, many museums have tended not to value as inbound channels for visitor acquisition. These transformations have been driven by the speed of change in digital technologies, the growing digital demands of customers, and financial pressures for a more efficient delivery of services. These changes have driven ‘the cloud’ to provide more effective, more flexible, and cheaper services.

The work carried out in museums are of huge historic, cultural and scientific value, but patronizing a museum should no longer be simply a case of an afternoon visit. Digitization has extended the definition of a museum way beyond its own walls. Museums should now be in a place where they can truly understand their customers and can offer them better experiences and services. Of course, happier customers translate to increased ROI.

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Museums can focus their energy on their mission of curation and preservation while benefiting from the skills, experience, software features and processing power of an expert partner at a fraction of the cost of ownership.

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