It’s been quite a year. We’re all adapting to new policies and procedures when it comes to public health and safety. The museum industry is certainly not immune to this, and museums are not only adapting, but embracing the new normal. 

So what changes can be made to make visitors feel safer on a visit to a museum, where experiencing it usually means interacting with it?

Here are a few things to consider:

Are you actively marketing your new procedures?

We all know that the visitor experience begins long before a visitor steps into the museum. It typically happens online with social media or on the museum website. Have you updated your messaging to include how you’re keeping visitors safe? Do they know what’s expected of them?

State mitigation efforts differ around the country. It’s important that you let visitors know how many people are allowed inside, if masks are mandated and what efforts are being made to clean the public spaces. Many institutions offer food services. Make sure your visitors know if those places are open for limited business, or closed.

Have you considered virtual tours or events?

A virtual tour can be easier to conduct than you may think. You can do a quick stream of a tour using your phone. And Facebook Live can work wonders. All you need is a Smartphone and a few inexpensive accessories. Do the research, plan a dry run before you go live, and just make it happen. Your at-home visitors will appreciate the effort!

What about interactives?

Many visitors are reluctant to touch anything in public right now. But so many of our institutions have exhibits designed to be hands-on and interactive. Research has shown that these are effective tools for developing a deeper understanding of museum content. So how can these exhibits continue to be utilized? Many museums are  providing visitors with hands-free options like a disposable stylus or even their own unsharpened pencil to use to touch the interactive’s buttons and screens. Most museums already encourage the use of hand sanitizer throughout the building – make sure those stations are visible and include signage.

This is a difficult time for all museums. But these new challenges have presented the industry with yet another opportunity to adapt and change. Public venues will not be “normal” for a while, but by implementing new ideas, museums can remain relevant – whether in-person or virtual.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay creative.

Jason Dornbush
Museum Services Project Manager