Cultural Institutions Reimagined
Many museums and other cultural institutions have had a rough ride of late. Although their curators and patrons may disagree, so many of them are great examples of Edutainment. What’s more, they’re incredibly well placed to capitialize on Edutainment 3.0.
To achieve this two-pronged mission, museums are looking to integrate fresh storytelling techniques and technologies to immerse and engage their visitors.
Additionally, creating cultural crossovers is a powerful way to bring in new interests and ideas. The Museum Cultural and Creative Products Market Data Report, published in 2019, points out that nearly 70% of consumers who purchase museum crossover products are new to the brand.
Why this trend matters
The word “museum” can still bring about boring, dry connotations. If museums and cultural institutions want to stay relevant, build for the future, and, dare we say, be a more exhilarating experience, they’ll need to take advantage of Edutainment 3.0.Using Edutainment 3.0 to create dynamic and interactive exhibits for visitors transforms an outdated ‘meh’ experience into something unique and memorable.
In Action: Cultural Institutions Reimagined
The Brooklyn Museum and Netflix teamed up to create a virtual exhibit featuring costumes from the acclaimed dramas The Crown and The Queen’s Gambit.
But how does a museum develop a crossover with TV dramas? By displaying a carefully curated selection of items from the museum’s permanent collection, which relate to the shows’ themes and characters.
They used digital technology to bring the experience of viewing a museum’s collection to whole new demographics. And it was a hit in its own right.
A partnership made in history. This collaboration led to the debut of a bespoke collection themed around the museum’s objects, including a porcelain iceberg necklace and leather pouches painted to look like bird’s eggs.
The partnership showed the American Museum of Natural History saw the value in supporting individual artisans and wanted to offer them new opportunities during a time when many museums chose to partner up with big fashion houses.
Spyscape is a funhouse masquerading as a museum where visitors can try out their spy skills. This $50 million, 60,000-square-foot espionage museum in New York gives visitors free rein to explore their own spy skills and attributes by completing challenges.
Afterwards, in the debriefing room, participants discover their role as either suspect or sleuth. And in the lie-detection interrogation booth, they learn their own tells - be careful not to blink too much -and then spot the falsehoods of others.
In April 2020, Spyscape released a podcast series, True Spies that provides a unique insight into the world of espionage, asking listeners what they'd do in real-life spy situations.
AirBnb teamed up with Musée du Louvre for a contest to provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience where AirBnb would give one lucky winner a private night at the Louvre. This experience came complete with a Mona Lisa viewing free of tourists and a tiny glass pyramid room to sleep in next to the giant iconic pyramid.
AirBnb connected with lots of new followers and Musée du Louvre had images of their gorgeous museum and collection spread around the internet – another win-win!
Artsy up your tech accessories. The Louvre collaborated with tech accessory giant Casetify to release a collection of art-inspired iPhone cases, AirPod cases, and wireless charging pads. This partnership also increased its reach and its income.
The Louvre’s brand partnerships reportedly generated $5.3 million in 2020, compared to $3.2 million in 2019.
Key Themes for Edutainment 3.0
Cultural institutions as status symbols
Brands have many reasons to cooperate with museums - the positive association that comes by visiting cultural institutions is just one of them.
Meaningful ad campaigns
Consumers prefer brands with aligned corporate purpose and values - branding via culture is a great way to position oneself.
Edutainment as “quality time"
Instead of just seeing history, you can create whole adventures at cultural institutions with your friends and family.
In Action: Ones to Watch
The artifacts of the distant past have provided inspiration for an extraordinary range of brand collaborations with Chinese museums. China’s Gen Z loves them. Fourteen museums have already opened their stores on Tmall, according to a Vogue Business in China analysis.
Producer Jeff Apple of Apple Space & Time and DGene is creating “AI-driven digital characters” of historical figures. This will use actor-driven motion capture technology to bring historical figures to life. The first project will be creating a digital John F. Kennedy for the drama series Special Agent from creators Clayton Frohman (Defiance) and Michael Chernuchin (Law & Order). This new field will be the first “digital makeup” experience for actors, said Andy Serkis.
Augmented reality and history? That couldn’t possibly be fun.
And yet TeAR down this WALL, an educational tool for Minecraft Earth, lets participants build and tear down the Berlin wall.
It comes with supporting educational material that helps students reflect on the history, impact, and devastating realities of how border walls divide people.
Cultural < > Classical
Cultural doesn’t just mean classical: could new edutainment brands become cultural institutions in their own right...?
Guidelines for Greatness
Use 3 approaches
The three approaches for Edutainment: Customized, Selective and Universal.
Make it “shareable” with installations and exhibits that are Instagram-worthy. Here’s an example from the new Da Vinci exhibit in Berlin:
Cultural IP might be a great way to foster crossover collaborations. But visitors and patrons are already experiencing aesthetic fatigue. Select designs intentionally and thoughtfully.
Embrace new platforms
Whether it’s analog or digital, it’s worth experimenting with new platforms and formats. The UK’s Black Country Living Museum has taken on TikTok to great success:
Maintain contextual awareness
The book The Holocaust in Contemporary Culture warns that black-spot sites are rendered as commodities when positioned within a tourism industry framework. This isn’t limited to in-person experiences. TIME’s recent MLK activation within Fortnite faced similar challenges when multiple users used emotes and skins with strong racist implications.
Spark Your Creativity
Ideas to jumpstart your imagination and help you include Edutainment 3.0 in your endeavors.
- Create quests: Which (micro)quests could you create to encourage visitors to get fully lost in the experience?
- Full family: How could you provide an Edutainment experience that’s inclusive and empowering for the whole family - from newborn to great-grandparents?
- Seek partners: Whether you’re within a Cultural Institution or curious to work with one, there’s plenty of scope to work together. We’re very excited about the concept of Liquid IP being a big driver here.